When I was 18, surviving my first year of college in the fall of 2000, I bought potatoes, pasta, and cereal bars to be mindful of my ‘budget.’ The truth was, I was only responsible for utilities and my personal expenses; I was lucky enough to have tuition and rent paid by my parents….. AND my aunt was sending me over $100 a month. ………AND I had a part time job. So really, not only could I have been buying real meat, but I should have been putting money away like a female Warren Buffett.
Jackhole move: Depriving myself of actual nutrients because I thought I was supposed to.
Cut to current day, Spring of 2016… I am 33, am only 25 credits shy of a bachelor’s (I think finishing my degree scares me at this point), I’m exhausted, I’m a glorified cashier working every SINGLE Saturday and Sunday like a damn high school kid, and I’m making exactly a living wage. Did I mention I’m exhausted? On top of all of this fun trivia, somewhere along the line, I convinced my dad he shouldn’t pay any more towards my degree and I began racking up student loans. So between changing majors about 78 times, and ‘going back to school full time,’ I have hit the maximum amount of attempted credits the federal government will acknowledge, and they refuse to give me any more money. And not to say that’s a bad thing… My student loan payment each month is ridiculous. But at this point, I am well on my way to my mid-30’s, I have a roommate in a mediocre apartment complex, and I ACTUALLY have to eat on $5 a day.
Recently, I began realizing how incredibly pathetic my life is without weekends off, or money to travel. It’s time for a change, but without my degree, I’m looking at glorified administrative assistant positions. But where will I get the money? I could make payments, but even the advertised ‘affordable’ schools want $300-500 per month. Holy crap. So I came to a terribly late, but wonderfully optimistic conclusion: I will go back to school paid strictly by scholarships. WHATTTTTT? I know other people have done so, but I’ve never had faith in what I consider to be something of a lottery. So here goes… I’m going back to school, I’m applying for scholarships, and when I get enough of those bad boys, I will sign up for classes.
Homie move: No additional debt, and future Weekend Warrior status.
Maybe it’s because I have a crippling fear of failure. Or maybe it’s because I always thought people were exaggerating when they told me I am ‘bright’ and ‘sharp.’ Because that’s what people in the south do… we try to magnify the good in the people that we love, to lift them up and hope that their wings will take flight.
I am ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ personified. Nothing in my formative years captured my attention in a way that I just knew what I wanted to do with my career or even my life. On top of which, society let me be a ditsy goofball who threw herself aimlessly into pointless high school courses, and collaged her walls with posters of teen heart throbs and boy bands. Innocent and wide-eyed (and maybe even ignorant) until I was at least 21 (as much as I dislike deflecting blame) I truly feel as though I was let down by my mentors during childhood. Whatever happened to the ‘Village’ raising the children? Granted, I should have believed my family and elders when they called me ‘bright’ and ‘sharp,’ but when my peers called me ‘thick’ and ‘ditsy,’ I’m much more likely to be influenced by the latter. To jump to the point, I am now creeping up to the doorstep of my 32nd birthday, and I am just now believing that I’m worth a certain pay scale (think middle of the 25% tax bracket range… still not shooting for the stars, but one step at a time, here!). –Please note, I am not trying to say nothing was my fault, and I am currently taking the steps to change my direction. But I WILL try to guide more young people to success, you can be sure of that!
So here I am. I beefed up my resume, had my [more] professional friends brainstorm with me on how I could set myself up for a better situation, and I applied for a handful of jobs. That afternoon, I received a call from someone who seemed incredibly interested in interviewing me. Immediately overwhelmed with happiness and disbelief, it started to sink in that maybe I deserve this. Maybe I had put in enough
bitch work to count for paying my dues. The night before the interview, I filled out the extra paperwork that the recruiter had emailed to me, I printed my resume and a list of references on special paper, and I planned the proper attire. I woke up, hurried to style my hair, made sure I had everything I needed, and I hit the road….. until I was at a dead stand still on the freeway. I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version and say that after I attempted two alternate routes, I quickly called to reschedule. LUCKILY, the recruiter already knew that I am still employed, and that there was no way we could have a successful interview with the time constraints. We rescheduled for an afternoon next week. Now comes the tricky part….
In order to avoid the rush hour traffic, I took the largest back road available (Manchaca) and decided to take it all the way to William Cannon, where my current office is. Memory triggered: William Cannon and Manchaca is where my mom, sister, and I lived during my 3rd and 4th grade years. Not the best area, and not my fondest memories. No big deal, though, I’ve been there dozens of times since, and it’s fine. Memory triggered: my mom didn’t have the greatest job at that time, and it didn’t take her long to marry someone out of
a mother’s survival instinct for her children love. That is when the negative self-talk began. “You’re never going to get out of the cycle set forth by your mother.” “Try as you might to claw your way out of the bottom of the barrel, your journey will always lead you back to this point.” I desperately tried to spin it (I resent my amazing PR skills most days). “This is just a reminder of how badly you need to respect yourself, and create an amazing future,” I told myself. “This was the best your mother was capable of at the time and it’s okay to look back, as long as it’s just for a moment, and it is only to be used as leverage.”
So I did it. I drove through the old neighborhood. Of course the houses are way tiny… smaller than I remember from childhood memories, of course. Bars are still on the windows of certain homes, lawns are depressingly overgrown…. The house I distinctly remember to have been the home of the rumored drug dealer looked like it had been condemned. I wanted to cry. In fact, I pulled over and allowed myself a moment for deep breathing. But there were no tears, no relief. Even now… I’m trying to let it go, but I can’t. Maybe because I know that it will always be a part of me. But I’m determined to only let it be a stepping stone in my journey, not a destination.
I will keep you all posted on how my interviews go. Thanks for reading, and please only let this entry be a motivation to be better, do better, and feel better.
PS: I tried to Google Map a picture of the house so y’all could see… it must have been National Mow Your Yard and Plant Pretty Flowers Day, because that picture looks like it was staged by a realtor… if I get over there again, I will take pics.