Growing up, I Never Thought I was Smart
Growing up, for as long as I can remember, my parents have always stressed the value of a good education. They used to tell me that by getting a good education you are setting yourself up for a good future. Without a college education or some kind of skill, life is going to be hard. Real hard. Oh man, I should have listened. It would have saved me a world of heartache. You see, Iíve always been capable of making good grades. I just didnít know it. When I managed to apply myself in school, I got Aís and Bís. However, those times were few and far between.
To be frank, when I was younger, I never cared about school. I did enough to pass, never got held back because, well, that would be super embarrassing, but I never did my best either. Now, looking back, I wish I had really buckled down and focused enough to get good grades. Who knows what I could have been if I had at least tried? Oh well, I canít turn back the hands of time.
After I graduated high school, I went on to college. Thatís what youíre supposed to do, right? Thatís what your parents want you to do, right? I managed to do OK in college. Again, never applying myself and doing my complete best, just doing enough to pass. Like many young adults, I was more concerned with the petty drama among my friends, hanging outÖanything other than schoolwork. However, I made one crucial mistake. I dropped a class and dropped below my 12 hours needed in order to keep my financial aid. Spring 2008 would be my last semester at school for quite a while. I no longer had the funds to go to school.
After leaving college, I moved back home and stayed for several years. Then, I was forced to move out and learn to take care of myself, like an adult. I moved to my parentís hometown of Charleston, Missouri. A few weeks after moving there, I began working as a cashier at the local Caseyís General Store. Believe me, when I tell you, it was brutal. The customers were rude and short-tempered, having no respect for service-workers making minimum wage, and seeing no value in what we were doing. Every day I would have to come to work, put a smile on my face, greet the customers and pretend to be happy, masking my true emotions. You see, itís not that the work was hard, I managed to learn very quickly, itís just that dealing with the public was a nightmare. The hours when I was at work seemed to last forever and the hours I would rest seemed to always be short. Hey, you have to do what you have to do, though, right?
I lasted for about a year and a half. Then, one day, I had an extremely bad day with an incredibly rude customer that always seemed to give me a hard time. That was it, I was done. That night, I quit. Just like that. Now normally, I wouldnít do that. My parents have always told me, ďNever quit a job unless you already have another job lined up. If you just quit without giving them a two-week notice, then it looks bad on your resumť. You have to explain that to future employers.Ē However, at that momentÖI had enough. Boom! I left and never went back.
Shortly after quitting, I began to look for jobs. I would spend all day looking for jobs and filling out applications. Then, I would go home once it got dark. Eventually, I got another job as a health care aide to a client who needed assistance but wasnít eligible to be in a senior citizen home. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands for her and did anything else she needed or wanted. It was an alright job, there were good days and bad days. However, due to my client suffering a health setback, I was no longer able to properly care for her. When it comes to jobs like health care aides, you have to establish a clientele. Without a clientele, you donít get a lot of work and since she was my only client, I was out of work and back to square one all over again.
I was at a crossroads in my life. I had already completed two years of college. It was now 10 years later. Did I want to continue working minimum wage jobs that I hated but were the only jobs available to me? Or should I go back to college and finish my degree in order to establish a legitimate career in my future? I had a lot of thinking to do. For me, I never believed I was smart. I wasnít one of those kids that were on the honor roll, got a perfect SAT score, graduated valedictorian, and was looking forward to getting into the best colleges. Was I smart enough to do well or was I just lazy and didnít apply myself when I should have?
In Fall 2018, I decided to go back to college and finish my degree in multimedia journalism. In the months leading up to my first day of classes, I studied math really hard to prepare for my math course, a subject that has always been a thorn in my side. Iím 31 years old now in a sea of kids 10-14 years younger than me. Yeah, I feel self-conscious sometimes. However, I feel much wiser than I did when I was younger. I learned the value of a dollar, what it means to worry about bills and taking care of myself without a safety net around me. Iím more focused than I have ever been in my entire life. I know what my ultimate goal is: to get my degree.
As a result, Iím putting in what it takes to excel in all of my classes and to achieve my ultimate goal. In Fall 2018, I had a 3.3 GPA. Itís now Spring 2019; I just received my midterm grades and currently have a 3.25 GPA. Iím taking it one day at a time. I wonít lie, there are days where I feel I wasted so much time and that Iím behind the eight ball. There are days when I wish I could talk to my younger self and tell her what I know now: the value of having an education, the value of applying myself, and being the best that I can be. I see my classmates that are much younger than me, not attending classes regularly, consumed with partying and extracurricular activities, not taking school seriously and I sometimes wonder: Do they know what I know? Will they ever get it? Will they ever realize the sky is the limit?