Now here I am at the age of thirty-three and I realize how much easier my life would have been if I listened to the wise words being told to me by my mom, dad, and mostly from my grandmother. High school should be a time to spread teenage wings, growing up from children into young adulthood. To start preparing for the dreaded “C” word, College. When most kids were shuffling themselves from class to class, taking notes, flipping through pages of boring text books, I was nowhere to be found. Instead I was hanging out in the parking lot. My activities included swapping gossip from other delinquents.
Instead of learning the periodic table of elements, I learned the basic chemistry of illicit drug use. When others were learning the miracles of internal combustion, I learned how to scope out unlocked parked cars that allowed me access to “OPP” Other People’s Property. I earned my unofficial degree in General Education by majoring in Street Smarts. However, one can’t write that on a resume. During this time, my family raised their efforts in trying to encourage me to go back to school. My parents were informed by the truancy department of my 30 day personal leave of school and my mom was being threatened to go to jail for my actions.
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My mother had had enough and dragged my know-it-all behind back into school following into each room and sitting with me to ensure I actually attended class. She was my faithful but unwilling lunch partner. As upset as I was that she followed me around like an angry mother bear, my friends enjoyed their free lunch. Midway through my sophomore year in high school I dropped out and focused my time on losing myself in the fog of drugs. Days melted into weeks, which then melted into months. One day I woke up and realized I was nineteen years old.
It wasn’t too long after that I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter Christal. All of a sudden education became important to me. I enrolled into Serremonte Del Rey Adult education. Going back to school with an infant child was harder then I could imagine. Diapers and bottles became routine and somewhere in the middle of raising a baby I had to find time to do my homework. It was hard but I was able to graduate with my G. E. D. A few years later my second daughter, Jennel, soon came along. Somewhere between the birth of my first and second child, I realized I had to get a job. I was twenty-three at the time.
My first job was at a jewelry kiosk called “Impressions By The Inch. ” Working as a single mom took up most of my time and energy. If I wasn’t at work, I was home taking care of kids. The hangouts in the High School parking lot were things of the past. As those fun days disappeared I realized that I had wasted my time having fun and not preparing for me or my daughters future. After working in the jewelry store, I started working as a manager in the retail store called Aeropostale for three years. It was exhausting, raising two daughters and accommodating a hectic schedule was near impossible.
I found myself at times sleeping overnight in the back room because it was easier than going home in between work shifts. Soon I found a job working for the Marriott Hotel chain where I’ve been for five years. Working for the Marriott was a blessing in disguise as far as my path back to education. Had it not been for the constant breakdown of office equipment and computer failures, I would not have realized how much I enjoy the inner workings of computers. Recently, my hours at work were reduced giving me an opportunity to go back to school. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go back to school to get my degree.
Going back to school added other difficulties, but I am glad to accept them because I know I am working towards a goal that will one day make my future better and brighter. Looking back, I have to ask myself, “Do I regret the choices that I made in my adolescent days? ” I can definitely say that I don’t regret a thing! My experiences made me the strong, independent, hard working woman that I am today. My only wish now is that when my children look at me and the life I lived then and live now they will see their mom, a woman that despite my many mistakes, I learned important lessons along the way.
Even though I had a rough start in school, I had the courage to go back. Education is an important key in making a better life. It is never too late to go back to school. Street smarts are important to have, but to have a well rounded education means getting a degree. They can use the lessons I learned to help them prepare themselves for a career and not just a job. That is how they can make a better life for their children. I hope they take my experiences and use them to make themselves better women. As far as education, I want them to know what they learn in school helps them make a better future.
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