In a weird way, I feel as though this picture describes my life up to this point. It was taken in November, 2008, shortly after I woke up (caught in mid-yawn). If you want to see why I'm where I'm at in life, look at this picture. This looks like a guy in his mid-20's who is taking nearly 8 years to finish a 4-year college degree.
As of this writing, I am two semesters away from graduating. Every person that I've told that to has had some variation of the following response - "Awesome! Congratulations! That's so close!" Since I found out that I only had two semesters, I haven't been excited. I don't see this as being a good thing. I wasn't sure why at first, but I've thought about it and I had a sad realization: I have never had two consecutive good college semesters.
Every time I've done well at school, I follow it up by doing poorly. I've never been able to build upon the good groundwork that I set for myself the previous semester. For some, it's simple - do good this semester and then do good next semester. But, for me, that's something that I've never been able to do.
I was in Concord's Academic Success Center the other day, talking about school stuff. Nothing big. They'd been sending me Facebook messages telling me to stop in and check up with them, so I did. I was talking to Trena Bolin, when a girl stopped in her office. I don't know her name, but I recognized her around campus. I'd had some classes with her before. I don't know how old she is, but I know she's a couple years older than me. She had found out when she was going to graduate and was very excited about it, as she told Trena - "Just three more semesters. I can't believe it. Only three more."
Just three more. She was excited about three semesters. That's helped put things into perspective for me. She's excited about three semesters and I'm dreading two. As much as I'm dreading it, I know that I need to change my ways and have two good semesters. I took the spring 2010 semester off and those 8 months of only working at Pizza Hut showed me that I don't want to do that for the rest of my life.
There are three kinds of people who work at Pizza Hut (or any menial job like that) - people who can make a career out of it (i.e. the General Manager), young people working their way through high school or college, and people with no qualifications who can't do anything else.
I spent 8 months as one of those guys with no qualifications to do anything else. I wasn't in college and I was a manager at Pizza Hut. If I hadn't gone back to school, I wouldn't have done anything else in my life but that.
It reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a delivery driver there. He's 31 years old. He's a very intelligent guy, but he's a 31-year-old guy at Pizza Hut. Something went wrong there. His words stuck with me, as I remember our conversation clearly.
One of my managerial duties is to count stuff and put it in the computer. One of his duties is to prepare dough. I was at the computer, putting stuff in. He was preparing dough. He looked over at me:
Him: "You still going to college?"
Him: "What for? Graphic Arts or something?"
Him: "Oh yeah. I remember now."
I went back to my work and he went back to his. After a minute, he looks back over at me.
Him: "You don't care about any of this, do you?"
Me: "No. It's Pizza Hut."
Him: "Fuckin' right, man! It's just Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut isn't a career. Pizza Hut is what you do if you do bad in school. Journalism, that's a career."
Pizza Hut is what you do if you do bad in school. Poor grammar aside, that's a very good point. I did bad in school and all I had was Pizza Hut. Now I'm trying to do good so I can do something better.
It's a bit of a conundrum, in a way. I'm not very good at much, but I can honestly say I'm very good at two things - journalism and random trivia. Trivia won't get me far in life, but I think I have the skills needed to become a very successful journalist. There's only one thing stopping me from that - I have to graduate from school first. If I were good at that I would have done it by now.
The only way I can do what I feel I'm best at is to succeed in what I feel I'm the worst at.
2011 is going to be a pivotal year for me, I guess. It will either be the year that I finally graduate from school and take the first step toward making something of myself. Or, it will be another year of the same. I guess we'll see what happens. I'd really like to change things and get a different headshot for my life.