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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Prodigal Son Returns

It's really interesting to think about where I was just a year ago. But it's even more interesting to think where I was six years ago. Six years ago, my life seemed to be pretty laid out for me - it seemed as though I would get a college degree in Music Education and wind up directing some high school band some day and would be happy. But as abruptly as the weather can change, so can one's life - and often times without warning. Call it my blind lust for an 'exciting' job with ample leadership opportunities and outstanding respect from my superiors that swept me away from going after a life I wanted to have since I began playing trumpet in that middle school beginner's band so many years ago. Or perhaps I was also facing classic burnout from the tiresome amount of work that professors seemed to push upon their students. Whatever the reason, I decided to take a different path.

Have you ever gone for a walk, and the further and further you walked the harder it was for you to look forward to the walk back? This is a perfect analogy for what I had been feeling at the time. It seemed the further and further I drifted down the path of Corporate America and the 'Big Bucks', the less likely it seemed that I would ever return to the low-paying but satisfying career of music. Then, one cold March Day in 2010 I came to the realization that the path I was headed down was incomplete and had a 1,000 foot drop to the dark depths below. I was laid off of my job as an Operations Manager at Indiana Beach, a title I had worked the past seven years to achieve. I had mixed feelings about the situation. It first lead me to wonder what the hell I was going to do with my life, as these sorts of jobs don't pop up like weeds (if this gives you a whole different analogy of corporate America, I intended for that). On the other hand, I couldn't help but feel like I had been given a free ride on a raft that was about to depart from a sinking ship.

One thought did, however, remain - any corporation can strip me of a job I'm good at, but few things in this world can take away what I'm passionate about.

A shameless confession, that only my closest friends, and family members have been aware of is that I used my management abilities to my advantage to nab a job with Thomas and King as a an applebee's manager in Lexington, Ky with the whole intention of leaving the company in August to return to school. I guess one could say this was my final confrontation with corporate America in which I gave them a gift before sticking the knife in and twisting it. Unfortunately, Thomas and King did appear to be a well organized company - but it was still a company with one thing on its mind: The Almighty Green. So after my last encounter with the constant kissing-ass that I've told myself I'm completely opposed to, but have reluctantly practiced over the past several years, I returned to school - after being absent for five years.

Indiana University Southeast is as good of a 2nd chance school as it is an only chance school or a stepping stone school. It appears that many people either go here just to get that piece of paper but with no real long-term career ideas in mind, or go here because its cheap and is a good place to boost your grades till you can get accepted on scholarship at a more prestigious establishment. Or in my case - you failed at getting your degree at a previous university but didn't not have low enough grades to be declined at a smaller school with lower standards. That being said, I am in no way ashamed to go to IUS and if anything I am proud of the fact that I have put so much work into getting here, and more importantly that I will finish my first semester with nothing lower than a B for the first time in my entire life.

Is it weird, you may ask? To be a 29 year old and still going for my bachelor's degree? Why would that be weird, do you think? Lot's of people do it. College is not easy. And a large majority of people in the world never get their college degree. So why would I feel any shame that it is taking me longer. Even at 29, I'm still well ahead of a lot of people.

Ok, so I'm 29 and I'm living on campus in the IUS Lodges (or dorms, if you feel like referring to them as that). I seriously get questioned about this all the time by people. Honestly, it doesn't really bother me a whole lot. I know that I am here because of a stupid mix-up that was for the most part out of my control, and because of that perhaps I need to take a few steps backwards. Live the young adult 'college life' again to push myself to greatness. Sounds reasonable doesn't it? Should I even mention some of the really awesome people I've met here - people that are going to help me get over some of the non-traditional aspects of my life, and finish with an undying certainty that I overcame myself to achieve success. If anyone thinks that I don't deserve to be recognized in their life because of a few differences, then perhaps they don't deserve my friendship.

The last statement of my epic adventure to achieve what I once thought was a distant impossibility is that I am in the right place. I don't see that changing and will feel confidence in that statement when I am on my deathbed breathing my last breathes of air.

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