My college journey has been a long one. One with many interesting twists, wrong turns, dead ends, and a breakdown or two along the way. Through it all, however, I’m still committed – maybe more so than ever before – to getting this right and finding what truly makes my heart beat.
I graduated high school in 2012. The school I graduated from was a local Christian school, one that was incredibly insular to the point many of us started referring to it as “the bubble.” I remember stepping foot on the campus of Rock Valley for the first time that fall and it might as well have been like stepping foot onto another planet. At the time, I was also suffering from severe anxiety and depression, two ailments only made worse by what was perhaps the most jarring transition of my life. That story is one I could write a novel on. In fact, I basically did on my other blog, if you’re interested. (There’s a Crack in Everything: 1.24.13).
Without going into much detail here on what happened, I was forced by my ailing heath to take the spring semester off and give myself time to heal. At the time, this was needed for me to get back on my feet, however, when coming back that fall, I became discouraged again by a math class I was spending over twenty hours a week on. After that, college was shot for me for quite some time. I decided to just go into the workforce and ended up getting a job, a job I loved, at that.
About a year into this job, people in my life began pushing me to make my next move. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted, in fact, I felt more lost about what I wanted to do with my life than at any other point. I ended up making a rash choice and signed up for a CNA class. Being a creative mind, I should’ve known this wasn’t right for me, however, I fell in love with the class, but the class is where the love ended. Getting my first job as a CNA was a nightmare. I worked at a local assisted living home that was incredibly toxic, with everything from my coworkers taking trash back out of the dumpster after I had thrown it away, just to tell me I wasn’t cleaning up messes, to them calling the residents vulgar names behind their backs, to a coworker using wildly racist language to describe another coworker. It was awful, and by July of 2016, I was done. I knew that night when I went into work I was going to swallow my pride and quit. I didn’t know what was next for me, I just had to trust that the dots would somehow connect in my future.
After quitting that job, I started coming to terms with a part of myself that I’d kept hidden for years. I was gay. Discovering this about myself and being able to be open about it made that fall one of the most beautiful times of my life. I was still between jobs and not going to school at the time, but I was fulfilled. That fulfillment only got better that night in early November when the Cubs won the World Series. That win taught me just how much hometown pride I had and I decided wherever I went, career or school-wise, living in Rockford had to be in the equation.
For the sake of time, let’s fast forward to the spring of 2018, I had just gotten a new job back in retail, a job that was better than any of the ones I had previously. I was now feeling as if I could take on the world. Throughout my life, there have been two hobbies of mine that I always dreamed of turning into a career – video editing and writing.
I had always loved watching the news growing up, going so far as to turn our living room into a de facto news studio. I would even create the graphics that the news team would use. I loved it and I still love it. In fact, my love for writing, video editing, and production has only gotten better with age. It’s never been something I’ve had to groan about doing. It was around this time I discovered Rock Valley’s Mass Communications program and I decided to give it a chance come that fall. I instantly fell in love, and still after three semesters, none of it has gotten old.
To answer the question, why the heck am I going to college? Why, after so many setbacks, failures, and wrong turns do I come back? For me, it’s easy. I’ve learned throughout my life that you’re going to fall down about a billion times. The trick is, though, to get back up each time. If something doesn’t work out, try something else. Failure is a part of life. Even though getting the wind knocked out of me so many times has hurt, it continually teaches me something. Also, I’ve finally found what I love. Sometimes, you just know when something’s right, kind of like a hand in a glove.
That’s what this is for me, and I’ll be damned if I give this up.