The following story was sent by an HCC student.
As far back as I could remember, I was that little girl that tried to bring home stray animals because even at a young age, I couldn't fathom the thought that they didn't have food or a warm bed to sleep in at night. I knew when I grew up, I just had to work with animals on some level. I also knew that growing up in New York, and with my straight A grades, I wanted to go to a university in Florida. We had vacationed there a few times, and I wanted to get away from the big city and move to paradise.
Throughout High School I had maintained a full time job and went from an honor society student to barely making it out of High School. I was a very angry teenager - My parents had divorced, my mom was disabled, money was tight, and I had also experienced a traumatic event that would forever change my life. Of course, being a teenager, I couldn't understand all of my anger and emotions, and started to rebel. I found unhealthy outlets to release everything I had inside of me and I had single handedly given up all of my dreams. I decided it didn’t matter right now, and I had plenty of time ahead of me. So, my hopes to work with animals were put behind me. Who has the time, money, or energy, and what college would accept me with my grades? I settled on just getting a second cat.
Although divorced, my parents did agree on one thing: the importance of education and the vital role and impact it will or will not have on your life. My mother was not able to finish school because she had fell victim to cancer at a young age, and never returned. She had always felt that her dreams were crushed and just ripped out from under her. My father had tried to live vicariously through me because he too never finished school, and was working for the same company for almost 30 years with no significant change in salary, and without a degree, he felt he couldn’t go anywhere. One thing they didn’t agree on was their school of thought. My father believed that we all do things we do not want to do and who cares if you don’t like your job, as long as your making money - It doesn’t matter if your happy, just as long as your bank account is flourishing. My mom believed that it was more important to be happy than to be able to buy 3 cars at a time. I was in the middle. I wanted to do something I enjoyed and get compensated for it.
Although money was tight, my father had always made sure to set aside a budget to
send me to school. I realized that I was moving into my adult years and I needed to get my act together. I reluctantly agreed to enroll in some college courses, but I never had a clear plan in mind. This would last for years to come. I had also accepted a position for an insurance company as a receptionist. My mind shifted from what will the future hold for me, to how much money can I make now.
My receptionist position had turned into promotion after promotion, and I job hopped a few times every time I gained more experience, because of course, with more experience, comes more money. By the time I was in my mid twenties, I was offered a position with a very reputable company that would literally double my salary within two years. I was in a management position and making more money than most of my friend's parents, and my own. This was my break, and I was convinced that I did not need a college degree. College is for suckers. So, I quit school. Besides, I had lost track of the classes I had withdrew from.
Within the next few years, I was stressed beyond belief, and began to loathe my job. I was in and out of doctor's because the stress started to affect my health. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my job, it the fact that I hated what I did, and I had to do it for 50-60 hours a week. This isn’t what I WANTED to do with my life, this is what I SETTLED to do with my life because I became prisoner to my paycheck. I was spending most of my waking hours doing something I despised.
While vacationing in Florida with my fiancé, I realized how much I loved the sunshine state, and on our way back home, I just cried because I didn't want to go back to work - I hated my job - I hated the cold - the snow - the commute - my responsibility - I was at my breaking point. I had had enough. I am not only quitting my job - I am leaving New York and moving to Florida, and never working in the insurance industry again. The job has taken such a toll on me - it has pushed me out of the state!
When I arrived in Florida, an insurance position was all I could accept to make a decent salary, because I had no degree and no experience in any other field. After two years, I had what felt like a combination of a nervous breakdown and a mid life crisis, and again, here I am, in the same old job that is robbing my every fiber of my being. By now, only a bottle of wine can de-stress me. Did I mention the commute? It was one to two hours each way for a job that was making me miserable, even affecting my marriage at times, plus I was in and out of the doctors, even a therapist by this time. They all gave me the same prescription: "QUIT YOUR JOB".
But where could I go without a degree and no other experience? All I could do is think that there has got to be something more to my life, and is this how my life is going to end? Am I going to be miserable, stressed, and sick, all just to justify my paycheck? Why didn’t I follow my dreams? Why couldn't have I taken school more seriously? Why can't I have a career that I feel passion for? Am I going to wind up like my father? I can’t let this happen. I am only 31 and I feel like I'm 51! And the light bulb went off. I knew I needed to turn my negative energy into a positive force. After a lot of prayer and support, the answer was to quit my job (and stay away forever) and go back to school.
So here I am, back in college enrolled in the Veterinarian Technology program, living in Florida. I came full circle, doing something that always has meaning to me, with a clear plan in mind, because I had to learn the hard way what the consequences are for not getting a degree. I unnecessarily exhausted years of my life that I can never get back, all because I did not stay on the straight and narrow by staying in school and following my dreams. I can’t help to think all of those years I wasted not being in school, not taking it more seriously. Was the extra money worth it? No way. What did I learn? Money cannot buy happiness and your education should tie into a career that will give your life a sense of purpose. Life is not only short, but it goes by so fast. Life’s choices are like karma, and will either come back to haunt you, or it will pay dividends ten fold, financially and emotionally. That’s why it is so important to stay in school and follow your dreams. I was one of the lucky ones that got a second chance, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.