This was the last one, I think, for the course.
Each step in life is a goal or should be. While financial means have always been the brick wall blocking my potential for greater things, I had to make a decision to not only incur debt but to find the will to succeed past my current state. That, in itself, is scary. The weight of wondering if you’ll be able to pay not just the household expenses, but huge student loans causes insurmountable tension. I’ve dealt with it before under a two income umbrella. Now I’m one person below what has been suggested as the income level to live in Pennsylvania. I get by yet if one thing goes wrong—unexpected house or car repair for example—my financial state can plummet dramatically.
How do I solve this? Sacrifices come to mind. My writing, while an income in itself, isn’t enough to contribute to anything but a new pair of Birkenstock sandals once every two years. I’ve also chosen a difficult field that requires studying and understanding each chapter or lesson in a limited time. Since my current situation has made online courses my best option, I could potentially miss out in classroom discussions. I’m certainly not a fan of homework and enjoy learning by doing in a controlled environment. Unfortunately, I’m not a young person in the comfort of my parent’s house without major bills and such to worry about. My full-time job can be, at times, mentally and physically exhausting yet I must find the energy to crack the books and test my limits. Perhaps if I treated like a job more than anything, my brain will understand its importance more.
So how can I possibly succeed? I must remind myself of how I got out of a mentally abusive relationship. In a moment of weakness where I almost traded my freedom for chains again, I found the strength to say no and severe the cord strangling my soul. That debt, while a scary subject, is a necessary evil to gain the coveted college degree which employers of skilled and specialized fields demand. I have resources like a potential scholarship and employee assistance at work to lessen the burden No longer am I under the impression that I’m not good enough or worth bettering myself. That cancer has been burned away. My fear will rise and doubt will fester. The trick is to beat it back. My friends, family, and co-workers encourage me without hollow praise. When you come from nothing, your create anything you dream so long as you take the first step and never look back.
Background: We had to take one of those tests most of your have seen on a Facebook feed to determine your personality. I know these haven’t been nail-biting essays. Just an insight on some of the subject matter. Or an exercise in bullshitting.
Out of the three—Intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social skills—the latter had the highest marks. Being an introvert at heart this surprised me. Conversations aren’t something I look forward to engaging in. Perhaps the twenty plus years in retail sales have honed my skills. For excellent customer service, you have to learn that giving of yourself without regard to the reward at the end will help you deal with other aspects of your life. This is especially true when interacting with complaints. In my youth, shifting gears caused my anxiety to skyrocket. I ran from situations that I charge into now. Reaching out for help just wasn’t an option in my younger years though I had teachers that recognized my struggles. They guided me and shaped who I am today in some way. I believe in growing up I’ve found a balance between maturity and acceptance in the diversity of the world around me.
Then technology changed the way we converse. In the world of the internet, all perspectives are open to our own interpretation. All opinions expose themselves in an unsightly manner. Unlike face to face confrontations, we have the ability to walk away before we hit the send button. To formulate our thoughts or reflect on what our words will accomplish. If only our passionate emotions allowed for such pause. With real life speed, that extra thought process can be lost. I constantly assess how my body language or tone could be perceived to the people I’m interacting with. Unlike the internet where emotions can be misinterpreted, a person’s stance or their vocalizations can send a clear message. I reserve myself more in social circles because of this though that might lend to the introvert side. Body language will also clue me in whether my fellow conversationalists are receptive to another line of thinking.
While people have helped me tremendously in my life, they have always approached me. My greatest weakness is asking for help. I want to figure it out on my own on one hand, and on the other—depending on the situation—embarrassment is the cause. Who wants to admit that their marriage of over twenty years has crumbled to dust or that the person you’ve given your life to has slowly stripped away your dignity and self-worth? Yet without help, how do we break free? I believe the constant feeling of having to prove myself during my lifespan has engrained that I can only count on myself. This isn’t the way to live. I struggle each day with the simple act of asking for help. Disappointment is a delicious candy that rots away your molars.
All in all, if I remember that there is always room for improvement and new ways to push boundaries of the mind and body I can continue to step forward. Without weaknesses, we never will find our strengths.
When I first attempted college in 1987, I dove straight into something that lacked complete and utter direction. Lost in the whirlwind of my parents happy that I had decided higher education was a good thing, I picked courses that had about as much meaning as the tar bubbles I used to pop along the side of the road in my youth. Seriously, what was I going to do with a meteorology class? I thought that Liberal Arts Degree was genius as well. Needless to say I failed miserably. My harried combination of working and going to school full-time broke my barely adult will. The youth of this country really do need direction more than a participation ribbon.
Now I was at the precipice of middle age and as a newly unmarried person, it was time to get serious about what I want to do for the rest of my life. Twisted Sister’s anthem of “I Wanna Rock” wasn’t going to cut it. For the past twenty-two years I’d been in the exciting world of retail sales. A field that, while that long tenure could be construed as a career, wasn’t at all challenging at this point. I have, however, been able to gain experience in reading budgets, managing stock levels, and learning Microsoft Office. In that, I found my goal—or more importantly—my next career path.
For me, failure was not an option. I must succeed and not muddle by—not only in the first term but every consecutive one following. Those days of carefree dreaming had past. Unfortunately, being the sole income in a household of one human slave and three furry overlords, attending classes at an actual campus was not going to be possible. Unlike my youthful self, I had the ability to take online courses. This afforded me to be in the most comfortable environment to learn. At my house, in my jammies, and rocking to whatever music struck my fancy. I’ve taken a page from my directionless youth and decided part-time would suit my needs best. The dishes don’t wash themselves, and I didn’t want the house to turn into a Wild, Wild West theme with furballs starring as the tumbleweeds. I also learned through my experience in completing mandatory training at work that distractions bombarded me no matter how big the headphones I donned were. I called it the curse of trying to learn everything about your job no matter how mundane or unattractive the position could be. How we perform, whether a transitional dishwashing jig to a high-powered office environment, will shape our skills to not only handle the job market but our personal lives.
I am the cornerstone to my success. However, I cannot rely on just myself. Pride has no place and asking for help doesn’t make me a lesser being. The ultimate goal is using the resources afforded to me to reach the end goal. I can do this.