I feel like I’ve told this story a million times but writing (excuse me, typing) it down makes it even more real.
Four years ago was my freshman year of college.
I had just moved to Columbia. It was awkward because my parents had already moved down here and I was just joining them. I knew I was going to college here but my mind was far from school. I had just graduated and literally moved from Kirksville the day after I graduated. I was happy to move because I was over the town that was so mean to me and couldn’t wait to go to Columbia where no one gives a shit about what you do because there are more important things than you.
I was 17, young for someone who was going into their freshman year of college. Three months after moving here, I was already making impulsive decisions. I had been accepted into Mizzou, I had gone to Summer Welcome, I had my schedule set, all I had to do was go.
Two weeks before school started, I bailed and signed up to go to MACC. Looking back, I hate and love myself for it. More slanted towards hate because even though I took all my pre-reqs, I had a years worth of journalism pre-reqs to complete when I transferred. The only reason I’m glad I didn’t go is because of how worse I would have been had I gone.
I basically blew off my first year of community college. I partied all the time and I didn’t go to school. I disappointed the hell out of my parents. I had mental health issues and my judgment was clouded by my own selfishness and prescriptions. I ended up not being able to go back to MACC because my GPA was so low. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone though. I was on the Honor Roll all through high school. How did I become so stupid?
I ended up taking a year off from school, and that’s when I grew up. I climbed out of the rabbit hole I had been in my whole life. I was 18 at the time when I got my job at the casino. There, I learned how to act like an adult and have a thick skin. No, not act. More like forced to. When you’re around an older crowd, you can’t expect to be babied or treated like a child. I worked at a place where I was constantly around people from their late 20’s to their late 90’s. Drunk people. Rude people. Old people. Mean people. But among those mean people, there were the nice ones. Having a balance of people who respected and didn’t respect you made me realize that there’s more to life than crying over spilled milk. A bad customer. Being stiffed (not tipped) when you gave perfect service. Those things don’t matter. What mattered is the people who surround you in a positive way.
I learned how to be kind and take care of myself. Before, I treated myself badly. I didn’t respect myself. I thought more about myself than others, and reflecting back on that, I feel regret. I feel like I didn’t say thank you often enough. I feel like I was blind, that people were too nice, or didn’t care enough to tell me to get my head out of my ass and stop acting so stupid.
I realized I could be whatever person I set out to be. I’ve always believed in karma and the cause and effect of your actions. This time I learned that if I thought positively, good things would happen to me. Whenever I start to think badly, I’m used to catching myself and thinking “Wow, that’s mean” or “That’s not fair for me to think that.” It took me out of the small-minded thinking into more considerate and kind thought process. And if people are still rude to me, I forgive them. I find that it’s better to live when you simply just let go.
When I went back to school, I went hard at it. Like really hard at it. It was to the point where no one ever saw me, not even my family and all I did was work. I’m pretty sure my family and friends understood. Well, I hope they do. I saved up my money and raised my GPA. My original plan was to go to Mizzou and I wasn’t quitting on that. But I had began at MACC and I wanted to finish what I started. By the time I graduated with my associate of arts in 2013, I was not that same freshman that started years ago.
I had become more disciplined, responsible, patient, and aware of things beyond myself. I started to feel for others, like really feel for things beyond my control and I couldn’t stop it. I made all these decisions on my own, just knowing it was the right thing and not because I wanted to make anyone proud of me, but because I wanted to feel proud of me. Accepting my mistakes and learning the hard way was the best wake-up call I could have asked for.