Out of the box

Life is all about patterns and routines. Traditions and legacies.

Growing up, I was taught that succeeding in school would get me far in life. My parents were right.

It starts when you’re born. You’re taught the proper tasks and actions to take. For example, using the toilet instead of wetting your britches. You’re encouraged to make good grades in school at all levels and when the going gets tough you keep trying. No one urges you to think out of the box because that might mean failure. Failure isn’t an option to some people. My whole life I was urged to study, study, study and make good grades. So I did. I made Honor Roll a lot and Valedictorian a few times. I didn’t not like these accomplishments. They made me feel smart and happy. And the best part was they made my parents happy. Sometimes we do things in order to feel loved and/or accomplished because you know if you do something really cool someone some where will brag about you.

Neither of my parents went to college, but they had always encouraged me to go. I never put much thought into it until I got to high school. I knew that if I wanted to have a comfortable life with a nice career and money I would have to get a degree. So guess what? I went to college. I’m still in college at 21 and it’s not fun (at all), but I know it will be worth it in the long run when I finally graduate.

It seems that when we are born there’s already a path set out for us. A road we are destined to take. For me, it was good grades, safe decisions, and education. I grew up being told that having children before marriage wasn’t wise and drugs were for losers. For others, it could be following in their parents footsteps by becoming lawyers, mechanics, doctors, whatever. Or it could be following in your parents footsteps and getting arrested or becoming a drug dealer. Maybe you’re not fit to be a doctor or lawyer. Maybe instead you could join the national guard and rescue people during hurricanes. Instead of living in the slums, you could be working and taking online college courses. All it takes is a decision. We can (usually) fix our mistakes, but they come with consequences. Think of it as a prescription drug with side effects.

No one tells you what life could be like if you thought out of the box. So, what if you fail a test and end up making a B on your report card. So, what if you forget to read that book for that report you’re supposed to turn in. People automatically think you will fail completely if you mess up one time. In some instances, one time is all it takes, but for others, it’s not. Failure doesn’t always become a routine and it doesn’t have to be your fate. We make things into more than they are sometimes. One time in 5th grade, I made a C on my report card and was scared to death to tell my parents. My mother found out and told my dad. Of course no one beat me and locked me in my closet with no food for a week, but I just knew my world was going to get a lot worse. It didn’t. I just had to work a little harder.

People assume you will follow in your parents footsteps. Look at me. I didn’t, but I was raised entirely different than my parents were. My father is the only boy among his siblings (he has 5 sisters) and grew up around the world because his parents were in the military. His parents never told him he had to go to college. My mother was 1 of 9 kids and grew up in a neglectful household where her parents could have cared less if she graduated high school. Life was different back then. Much simpler. If you didn’t graduate no one looked down upon you because it was common. Nowadays it’s a lot different.

Encouragement is a huge motivation; one that can change your life.

I often think about what life would be like now if I had never started college. Would I be a waitress struggling to pay bills with my low salary and shitty tips? Would I be depressed because I felt like I didn’t have goals or destinations in life? You can’t answer these questions without being in these situations. You have to put yourself in them and ask yourself if it’s really what you want. That’s all that matters in the end, right?

When I was little, I would have loved to have been playing outside or with my Barbies instead of studying and doing homework, but if I wouldn’t have graduated high school I would not be where I’m at today. Over 70 hours of completed college coursework with lots of debt. But really, it’s amazing what our lives turn into because of a little push here and there or no pushes at all.

Are you doing what makes you happy?

-C-

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