Left or Right?
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
Looking back in retrospect, I have had zero direction in life... like none, ever.
I was never good at sports. I was "okay" at art but never had a fueled passion. I am horrible at math to the point I catch myself calculating basic equations as a precaution. I still don't understand politics. Must I go on?
I never found anything that I absolutely loved. Nothing triggered my interest. I went to a high school that was very faith centered rather than education centered. We were literally graded on memorizing Bible verses. We had art club, Young Republicans (because that's the only political party, right?), and a sports club. You were encouraged to go to the two private colleges the other 95% of students went to (that was literally an extension of high school), and good luck to ya if you can't afford it!
God forbid we even tell kids it's ok to NOT go to college. It's ok to go to trade school. It's ok to go to community college. It's ok to fall somewhere short of the cookie cutter shape of NORMAL. Who the hell are you to tell me what is normal anyway?
As a result of my independently funded and faith based education, I didn't know what the hell I was doing with my life or what I even wanted. (Don't get me wrong, I had a great life, I just didn't know what to do with it)
My first year of college I changed my major 3 times. The first time was literally in the middle of freshman orientation. I tried to get involved, but I didn't live on campus and at this point in my life I wasn't very outgoing, so that was short-lived. Hey, I had a good job, so that was basically the only thing going for me.
What do you do when you aren't interested? You go out and try to find interest. That's where the trouble started.
There are two things that have always gotten my interest. BOYS and ALCOHOL. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy them both (although I prefer to say I've upgraded to men) but I went a little overboard at this point. Isn't that what college is all about?
Well, for a whole 8 years of my life, there was one particular boy who sparked my interest.
Let's rewind a bit. We met in high school. Our relationship went toxic about two weeks into it. I dealt with it for 2 seasons, then we went separate ways. Here and there for the following years we'd see each other, see other people. My heart dropped every time I saw him. I don't know what it was, but that boy had put a spell on me.
So fast forward to naive and vulnerable college-sophomore-me, I fell to that boy's spell again. I dropped out of college. Moved out of my apartment and back home. Got kicked out of my parents home. Moved in with him so I could throw away thousands of dollars maintaining our bills. Lost basically all of my friends (the good and the bad). Lost respect from just about everyone around me. Oh! And then I found out I was pregnant as I'm packing up our stuff because we were being evicted from our apartment. It couldn't get any worse, right? YES IT CAN! I lost my job that I had since I was 17.
It wasn't until another year later when I finally snapped out of it. Undoubtably, we were absolutely toxic together. I thought I knew what love was. It took seeing a tiny human that was literally a copy of me to realize what real love really is. I knew my son deserved so much more than the train-wreck duo we were, so I got out.
That was the first step.
Simultaneously, through my rollercoaster lifestyle, I developed a passion for small business.
So here I am, a poor single mom. I've got this kid who is completely dependent on me and almost no means to provide besides the chump change I was making at that job I had already maxed out in and my WIC food vouchers.
I needed some change.
I started working for a different small business. Immediately, I took on the communications role of the business. This wasn't even why I was hired, it just comes naturally, and my boss could see it. However, I was completely content with the one certification I had under my belt, and I didn't really aspire for much more.
In my new position, I was lucky enough that my bosses saw potential in me, and they sent me on a work trip across the country that focused on small business marketing. It was so nice to be surrounded by people with the same passions, and that actually understood the struggle of small business in a corporate world.
I met a lady on this trip who said one of her most valuable business assets is the power of networking. She highly recommended joining a Chamber of Commerce. I didn't even know what that was. It's like the PTA, right? I wrote it in my journal anyway.
After coming home pumped to save the world, I went through my notes and followed up on all of the tricks I had learned. Two weeks later, I'm sitting at a Chamber sponsored women's event in a room full of women that I have absolutely nothing in common with. I seriously thought I was back at square one.
I kept going, I was determined that I was going to get something out of this and the business was going to have this insane spike in sales. If I ran a report after all that time, I'm sure I'd see some improvement on sales, BUT I wish I could run a report to see an improvement on myself.
Well. I finally had that moment where everything made sense. I was sitting at a different networking event where the speaker was telling us her whole life story. I was in total disbelief. I am surprised they didn't have to pick my jaw up off the table. She was JUST. LIKE. ME. It was like I was looking in the mirror at the grown up, accomplished version of myself.
She had been a young single mom determined to survive. In her quest for survival, she developed a quest to succeed. She realized through her array of jobs that she, just like me, has a passion for communication, and went back to school while balancing a full time job and a baby on her hip.
Remember earlier I said I took over the communications in my new job?? I was in that position for over a year before I even realized that this was my passion. I was in a very similar position at my other job. I had always thought you had to go to school for business or to be a nurse. I never knew your legitimate passions could be a degree.
My gears really started turning then.
Throughout this wild journey, I realized that I couldn't and WON'T depend on someone else to take care of me for the rest of my life. It is my duty to offer my son the life he deserves, not anyone else's, but I'd have to get back on my feet to do that.
It wasn't until a few months later when I met a really dear friend that I'd start making huge changes. She specialized in career development and helping untraditional students achieve their goals. She helped me through the entire process of re-enrolling in college all while holding my toddler.
If it weren't for all of the support from my new peers and my family (especially my parents, who I am surprised hadn't given up on me!!), I couldn't be where I am today. Over the last two and a half years, I have met so many people that have encouraged me to achieve my dreams, recognize the things I am working so hard to do, and stress how important it is not to let anything hold me back.
I had to give up the life I thought I loved so I could find the girl (me) I never knew needed love. I'm so embarrassed that it took so long for me to realize my own worth. I'm so embarrassed I had to hit rock bottom to find myself. But I am thrilled I got to meet the real me, even though it took so long, because she's happy and she's gonna go places!
Obviously, I'm nowhere near done. I still have a very long way to go, mentally, physically, financially, and in my career.
I am very fortunate to have the resources and support I do.
To any young lady struggling, let me be your motivation. Let me be your guide. You are not alone in this!
Moral of the story: You are who you hang around.
Your direction evolves from your influences.
Surround yourself with people who care about your future.
Don't ever settle.
Make yourself happy. Don't rely on someone else to do it.
So which direction will you choose? Left or right?