All too often our lives don’t pan out the way we had hoped, or in the ordered we would prefer. That is definitely true in my case. My plans have changed numerous times with school, jobs, where I wanted to live, and on. Here is where my story begins…
I graduated from high school in 2004. I couldn’t be more excited to be DONE and wanted nothing to do with college. I didn’t take the SATs or apply to any schools. I wanted something fast, fun, and “easy” to get out on my own and start making the “big bucks” ASAP. Fresh out of high school, 18-year-old me decided she wanted to go to Cosmetology school. I applied, got in, took out a student loan and started going that July. It was fun and exciting at first. I had been coloring my hair at home for a good couple years by then, but the more I learned the more I wanted to experiment.
I made all the staple decisions a new cosmetology student made at that time: Played with over-done makeup, dabbled in hair extensions, and let a classmate give me an A-Line Bob! (What was I thinking!?) Then finally after 10 weeks in the “class room” my group graduated onto the floor to start taking clients. I was petrified! It was no secret that new students were on the floor. We were fresh meat and all got slammed with clients the first minute on the floor. Things were going okay, but I wasn’t happy. This place was 10 times worse than high school ever was. There were 40-50 teen and 20-something women crammed into a small “salon” space. There were cliques, thieves, drama queens, and those kind of girls who shared WAY TOO MUCH information in the restroom. I had never been so miserable. I knew shortly after those first 10 weeks that this career was NOT for me, but I was not a quitter. I refused to give up and let these adolescent girls pull me down. After all, I had to take out a student loan to complete this program, so I was going to finish. And I did. I graduated in June 2005 and couldn’t have been more relieved.
I took a semester off to just focus on working and enjoying the break from school before I prepared to go to my local community college. By this time I was nearly 20 and had grown up a lot and realized I could handle college and that, more importantly, I WANTED it. I started community college in 2006 with my sites on transferring to a university in pursuit of a degree in Psychology. I was led astray by a couple guidance counselors and spent about a year longer at my community college than I should have, but in the fall of 2009 I transferred to University of California, Irvine! I was an
Ant Eater and proud to be finally making some ground towards my educational goals.
I was lucky enough to have family down in southern California that opened their home to me, temporarily, until I could get into the dorms or find roommates to get an apartment with, which ended up being much harder than it sounded. I commuted to campus 2 days a week, 40 minutes one way. I didn’t have time to meet people and the majority of my classmates were 18 and 19 and very immature. My 15 year old cousin, whom I shared a room with, was more mature than they were!
Being away from home for the first time, transitioning to a quarter system and being more (in)dependent was difficult. I was home sick all the time and really struggling to keep up on my classes. I was also depending on my parents to pay my bills and to have a little bit of spending/miscellaneous money (They forced me to quit my job so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with my classes, which was actually a good thing). However, this was the first time in my adult life that I had to ask them for money, and I hated it! By mid December 2009 I was on my way home for winter break, and I couldn’t wait to leave. I really enjoyed the holidays and being home again, but that joy was short lived. When I returned to school, things felt tense at home and I was overwhelmed again by the cost of school and the fact that there was no way I could afford to move out, but this arrangement was supposed to be temporary. So I spoke with my mom and explained my concerns with her, and just like that we decided it was best for me to withdraw from the university and return home for “Plan B”.
The good news is I was able to get a full refund on the courses and books I had just purchased earlier that the day. The bad news was when I returned home I learned that the local state school was not accepting any new students for at least a year a half, due to cut backs and over enrollment. Crap….what was I going to do now? I figured I had to get a job and just wait until I could go back. There was no other option. Then I realized just how bad my local economy was. NO ONE WAS HIRING!!! $H!T! Now, I’ve really done it this time. I started to feel like a complete failure, like I’d thrown in the towel too easily. I felt like I was a quitter and a chicken and just walked away. So what’s next?
One evening I received a letter in the mail from another local state school. I had received late acceptance! This was great, but the drive was 1.5 hours one-way!
I wouldn’t be any better off from moving home just to double the commute. Then my mom came up with a wild idea. (I don’t think she ever imagined I would call her bluff and take her up on the suggestion.) My mom asked me if I had ever thought about going down and talking to a recruiter… a military recruiter. In high school I briefly thought about joining just for the college benefits. Then September 11th happened and I crossed that idea off the list. And everyone who knew me, knew it was something I would NEVER do! That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind since then, but this was a different time. I had grown, I had changed, and I needed to make things happen.
So two days later I dragged my mom across town and we went to the Marine Corps Recruitment office. It was scary, intense, and nothing of what I expected. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it was the first eye opening experience I had had in a long time.
Real Life with Locey continues…