I don’t know who needs to hear this right now but… don’t give up.
My journey started in 2004 as a young wide-eyed 18-year-old on his own for the first time. Georgia Southern University is the setting as I set out into the world of career development and college life. Initially, I was accepted to the school as a Graphic Design major. I changed that major to Business before school even began. Classes were easy but I never felt like I would want to do that the rest of my life. The summer after my freshman year I found a job in Western Mass. as a camp counselor. That summer opened my eyes to what it is that I felt was my true destiny, teaching and coaching. As soon as the summer was over I changed my major to Early Childhood Education. I hated it. It felt like I was babysitting kids in a daycare instead of truly “teaching” them to do anything. I spent a year or so in ECE courses to find out that’s not what I wanted. Not only was I wasting my time taking courses I wouldn’t need but I wasn’t performing well.. at all. College life had me in its grasp and held me in a chokehold of mediocrity. Partying, drinking, basketball @ 5 EVERYDAY, drinking, girls, drinking, and then school. That was my life and that was the order of importance. My parents were funding this entire journey out of pocket so I felt guilty wasting their money while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do and ultimately figure out who I was. I took on a couple jobs to help pay for rent and used my summer camp money to help with tuition. Eventually this led to me working full time hours and only going to school part time. I reached a point where I was gonna breakdown so I dropped outta school completely and returned to Atlanta.
Now I’m back home in Atlanta at the age of 21 working and living with my parents. All that meant was I could buy my own liquor and party at better clubs in Atlanta than my friends did in Statesboro. When I finally decided to try my hand at school again I enrolled at nearby Clayton State University. This time I wasn’t paying for it, I took out loans and pell grant money so that my only focus would be class. I also changed my major to Middle Grades Education hoping that this would be my calling that’ll lead me out of working at Wal-Mart and into a new career. Unfortunately, I just ended up making my GPA worse as I fell into the same rabbit hole of partying, drinking, and basketball. My grades were all over the place and my focus wasn’t there. In 2009, I grew tired of the small scale feel of Clayton State and wanted to return to GSU to finish out my degree. Just as I was planning it all out, the news came that I was having a baby boy.
With that news came a level of responsibility, a level that did not involve leaving town for school. I worked a couple odd jobs around ATL (security @ GA World Congress Center, window cleaning, driving for Grady) before ultimately getting hired by my current employer in 2010. A dream job for many and a fantastic opportunity to see the world for myself and my family. This job helped make ends meet for the time being but I didn’t see myself doing it forever so I decided to give school yet another shot.
I returned to GSU in 2012. It was a humbling experience to be noticeably older than my peers and have to explain time and time again to others why I was back at GSU pursuing the same degree I started 8 years ago. But this time was different, this time I was more focused than ever. I changed my major one last time to History w/ Teacher’s Certification and picked up a minor in Coaching. I had a two year plan that was virtually foolproof: FINISH. The courses were laid out for me and all I had to do was show up and pass. My plan was going just as I hoped and I was landing some of my best grades I had ever made in school. Of course with everything going as good as ever, I had to mess it up. Fall 2014, my last semester of school. One last set of classes to take. One last hurdle to overcome before I was free to begin my life as a teacher/coach but more importantly a dad that was home all the time. I told everybody about it, I told everybody I was graduating and never coming back. “December 12, 2014..write it down”, that’s what I said. But what ended up happening in just one night changed all of that. I got into some trouble with the law about midway through the semester and found myself in one of the roughest situations I’ve ever had to face. The embarrassment of getting arrested alone was enough to hide from others but the fact that it could possibly ruin my life was a darker cloud I held over my head. I was coaching football at a local high school and had to constantly watch over my shoulder hoping that no one in the community would spot me out in newspapers or police reports. That paranoia drove me crazy. Coupled with the personal issues I faced trying to bounce back to a “normal life”, I turned to alcohol to help cope which drove me into depression. I constantly found myself asking “how could I mess this up?”, “how could I come this far and drop the ball?”. While I was in this depressed state of mind, I never went to class for two months straight. Just went to football practice/games and went home. It wasn’t until my parents found out in a letter sent to the house by the court that I finally came to my senses. I didn’t need to hide anymore, I needed support but it was too late. I missed two months of classes and had to beg my professors to let me make it up. Surprisingly, all of them did…. except one.
When it came time to walk across the stage on that morning of December 12, 2014, I knew I wasn’t really graduating. I knew I failed that class and would have to make it up. But I couldn’t tell everybody that, how would that look? Disappointed in myself, I hid that news and went on like nothing happened. I walked across that stage and left GSU like everything was good. Next couple of years went like this… Moved back to Atlanta, got engaged, got married, got a new job as a flight attendant, had another baby… Now it’s 2018, I was tired of my job and told myself I need to go back to school and finish. Throughout the years, I had several close ones try to get me to take that one class over but I couldn’t draw myself to do it. I was married, making good money and saw no reason to put the good life on hold to go back to school for ONE CLASS. One day it just clicked, “I’m not about gonna be a flight attendant forever so what am I willing to do to change this?. I made a few mistakes but this is not where I want to be.”
I enrolled in GSU one last time, for one last class, for ONE last chance. Only catch, I HAD to drive to and from Statesboro EVERY Thursday from Atlanta to take the class. I HAD TO, no online options, no other campus in Atlanta… try explaining that idea to your wife and mother of two kids (one being a newborn) as you’re already on the road several days a week working on airplanes. On top of that, my advisor told me I HAD TO make an “A” in the course in order to graduate. My GPA was so jacked up from going major to major/school to school over the past 14 years that I HAD TO make an “A” in this course just to get my gpa at a graduating level of 2.01. Keep in mind, this is a history course so intense that I couldn’t make it up the first time around. A 20+ page paper, presentations, hella books to read, etc. Balancing that class load and keeping my home life as normal as possible was a struggle but i made it through the semester flawless. Turned in every assignment on time, showed up to every class, all of that. Fast forward to the end of the semester. Now it’s showtime, I confidently turned in my last paper and final exam. Only thing left was to see that “A” when final grades came out. But if you’re following the story, you know what came next. “I GOT A “B”???” FUCK!” When I tell you I was hurt, I WAS HURT. I was in Vegas on cloud 9 looking at my phone for good news and my whole mood changed.
“I failed again.”
“I gotta take another class.”
“I gotta go back to my job”
I contacted the professor and asked him what could be done to change it to an “A”. Nothing. All of the familiar emotions came rushing back and I’ll admit it almost caught me. My wife and my mom were the only ones I told, and all they could say was “it’ll work out”. I didn’t believe them. Yesterday I was on the computer looking at my gpa to see what class I needed to take to get a 2.0. I click the button and it showed “2.0”. I clicked it again and it said “2.0”. I clicked it again and it said “2.0”. I stood up. I sat down. Then I called my advisor to check it out and make sure I wasn’t tripping. She said she’d get back to me because they were still putting grades in. Then I got this….
As it turns out, the “A” would’ve given me a 2.01, but a “B” got the 2.0 that I needed. As it turns out, me trying my hardest was good enough after all. You may be thinking, “that’s great, I’m proud of him” or you may even say “damn buddy dumb, he took all time to get a 4 year degree”. (To which I reply, “yo momma”). Either way you cut it, I got it done. I could’ve thrown in the towel 100 times and some would say I did. I didn’t allow myself to get in the way of what was destined for me, no matter how hard I tried to ruin it. When it’s all said and done, I HAD TO go through all of this to make me the person I am today. I regret a lot of decisions along the way but I appreciate the lessons they taught me. You never really know how strong you are until you convince yourself that there is no other option except THAT. I’m sure there are many people in the world who want to do something but become discouraged because it’s “too late” or scared of what others may think. Damn all that, do what you want to do and find a support system from those who care enough to help. I truly thank all of those who helped me along the way, I really do.
What’s next for me? I have no idea but as far as this chapter goes, it’s finally “closed closed”.
I don’t know who needs to hear this right now but… don’t give up.