I wanted to take some time to update my journal on here after 7 months and give everyone an insight into my life over the past 10 years. This journal will be a sort of retrospective diary entry or autobiography that I hope others will read and be able to empathize with. It will be mostly related to my transition into adulthood and my struggle to find a sense of identity. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I understand. If you do read the whole thing, I hope you find it interesting.
I'm 17 at this point. I graduated high school in 2008. I had moved to Kansas in 2007 and spent my senior year trying to scrap together some new friends who I would soon lose touch with as we all moved on to different colleges. It was a struggle as I moved during a pretty developmental part of my life. I was just coming out of my shell and even had my first girlfriend in my junior year. Luckily, I was able to make a couple friends who would be in my life past high school. Moving to Kansas was tough, but 10 years later and I'm actually very glad I did it. Tough times like this and those below really shaped who I feel I've become and who I will continue to grow as.
I'm 18 at this point. I went to college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. I stayed on the 4th floor of McCollum Hall dormitory (building now destroyed due to grossness). My roommate was a quiet guy who I really got along with overall but who may have secretly hated me for all I know. Freshman year was a big growing up year. In high school, I turned my nose up at those who drank. I couldn't even curse if I wanted to. I didn't really deal with people around me drinking or smoking pot in high school but these things surrounded me in my hall. I ended up getting over my judgments and became pretty okay with them doing what they wanted.
This year was the year I loosed up and learned how to talk to people again. I personally didn't drink much, though I would end up trying a bit at some point that year. My major was Mechanical Engineering, though it was chosen only because I had the test scores to be in the school. I had no idea where I was going or if I wanted to do this. This year was filled mostly with pre-req classes and a couple engineering courses like ethics and programming.
I'm 19 at this point. I moved into an apartment my softmore year with a guy from my hall who also didn't drink much or smoke. He was in the band and was usually gone a lot. This was fine for me but not when he left a mess. We rarely talked socially and really only spoke up about bills. We roomed together for two years and at this point I still hadn't made any really solid college friends. Occasionally, I would see my high school friends and we'd hang out every few months. However, those years were pretty lonely and I soon realized I had some minor depression, though enough to see a therapist for a couple sessions.
I'm 20 at this point. The stress and depression end up becoming a bit much for me and my grades begin dropping severally. I'm put on academic probation which eventually leads to me being forced to leave KU after a small stent in a Business Major. This was a very low point for me as I felt like a failure. Like my life was going nowhere. I felt like I let all the support and investment my family gave me go to waste. I moved back in with my parents and continued working full time at Hy-Vee, a local grocery chain, as an Italian Clerk.
During this time, I was lucky enough to find a girlfriend for the first time since high school. This was huge for me. I had been feeling unlovable or like there was something wrong with me and finding someone who actually liked me really got me through this particularly tough time. I didn't know how to act and I was so unsure of who I was that I almost messed it up. I was an asshole for a little while and luckily she called me out on it. I was able to change and learn how to be a boyfriend and honestly a friend in general.
I'm 21 at this point. I tried to dip my toes back into school for a bit. I took a couple classes at my local community college but without direction it felt pointless. I saw a flier on a board about getting a degree in teaching through Emporia State. Professors could come from Emporia, KS and teach me at the community college. This seemed like a great option for me; I could continue living with my parents, work, and get a teaching degree at the same time. My entire family is filled with teachers. I was born for this, though actively avoided being a teacher before so I wouldn't be just like everyone else. I'm very glad now that I changed my mind.
I'm 22 at this point. I end up working during the day and taking classes at night. Both full-time. It was a ton of hard work but I do really well on a pace. The routine helped me feel like I had control over my life again. I began regaining some confidence and met a lot of interesting people of all ages who wanted to be teachers. Sometime during my classes, my girlfriend of over a year breaks up with me. It was fairly mutual and overall for the best. However, I'm so glad we dated. I learned so much about how to be a better person. I currently wish we could go back to being best friend but I know that time has passed. I transition jobs from Hy-Vee Italian Cook to Liquor Store Clerk.
As a Liquor Store Clerk, I learned a lot about alcohol. Prior to this, as I mentioned before, I didn't drink a lot and therefore knew nothing about the different types of alcohol. This job, in a way, helped me understand an element of adulthood I would have been forever ignorant about otherwise. Now I feel I can talk to someone about differences of wine and beer even though I don't drink them myself. However, this job only lasted a year. As school went on, I tried to find a job related to teaching. I was studying elementary education so I found an elementary school to work at.
I'm 23 at this point. I worked as a paraprofessional full-time while going to school at night. A para-professional is like a teacher's assistant who works with kids with special needs. I worked in a self-contained classroom with kids who have behavior disorders. This would mean kids who would try and hit me, bite me, kick, scream, tear things apart, curse at me, or try and kill themselves. This job felt like a real adult job. I learned a lot about working with kids and I was able to take what I learned at night and use it during the day.
I'm 24 at this point. I begin my student teaching which involves teaching Kindergarten in the Fall and 3rd Grade in the Spring while taking classes. I worked with amazing teachers who really helped me grow as a person and as a teacher. I became comfortable leading students and being a leader in general. It was the first time I could really see students grow from what I taught them and that's when I knew I had made the right decision to go into teaching.
During this time, I had another girlfriend. She's a graphic designer and really helped me grow as a person but in a different way than my previous girlfriend. I felt more cultured and social than I ever had. I met her friends and we all went to movies and parties. I hadn't had any friends who I consistently saw for many years and I felt so happy. We break up after about 8 months and it hit me much harder. I didn't see it coming (foolishly) and it put a hard stop on a lot of my social interactions. Though I would still see those friends for months later, it felt very different and I felt less comfortable. I'm lucky enough to say I was able to really keep one amazing friend from that ordeal. I graduate college in 2014.
I'm 25 at this point. I try and find teaching jobs in the local school districts of Olathe and Shawnee Mission but nobody will hire me. My aunt works as a teacher in Topeka and hooks me up with a few interviews by putting my name out there. Topeka is an hour from me and doesn't have the best reputation but I end up teaching there because I want to get out of my parents house and prove I can be successful. I get a job as a 4th grade teacher.
This year is a mixed bag of emotions. I am stressed out of my mind and the most depressed I've been though without even knowing it. I do my best to try and teach these kids to the standards they want in the district and without much support or guidance. Everyday is an emotional roller-coaster. I hardly ate, had constant stress dreams, and had little to no social interaction. Every day I felt behind and like I was failing. I am yelling at kids because I am frustrated that I can't figure out a better way to get them to do what I want. I still beat myself up about this and feel it's one of my biggest failures in life. However, on many days I loved seeing kids laugh and smile and learn. By the end of the year, I felt like I had more of a groove and that I really reached the hearts of some troubled children. I felt like a real teacher by the end. Then my contract ended. The school didn't want me back. I am out of the job.
This was a real down-point in my life. I was a failure. I temporarily moved back in with my parents as I looked for a new teaching position. But my career in shambles; no district wanted to hire me. I couldn't find a teaching job anywhere. My father, who lost his job two years ago at this time, was very empathetic. He was such a support in my life and made sure I never gave up. He helped me fill out job applications for other positions that may make use of my teaching degree. Every day, he sent me a to-do list to get me out of bed. He kept me from breaking down and even now I want to cry. I can never thank him enough for what he did for me. I applied and interviewed at hundreds of places. Hardly anyone wanted to give me a second look. Eventually, my mother told me she had a connection at a company called Cerner.
I am 26 at this point. My mother's connection put a good word out for me and I'm able to get an interview for a position called Learning Consultant. It's a travel position that has me going to new clinics and hospitals every week to help doctors, nurses, and medical staff learn how to use the Cerner EMR (Electronic Medical Record). I get the job. This is my first time being in a corporate position or in any healthcare at all. Suddenly I'm doing both.
I'm very anxious about traveling. I worry that something will go wrong or that I'll miss a connection. Even filling the rental car with gas still makes me worry. But diving headfirst into something that made me so anxious helped me get over this anxiety. I learned how to talk to doctors, manage teams of people better, and I've learned a lot about how healthcare works in different specialties. Plus, I am able to fly around the country and see different places. I'm making more money then I did as a teacher and I have many more opportunities for advancement. I'm not nearly as stressed or depressed as I was as a teacher. This was a good thing.
One of the reasons I made this journal is that I want to show you where I was at different ages. I see so many people worry that they are failures or messing up their lives and I want to say "Yeah, I understand that. I struggle with failure even now."
I also feel like I wrote this journal to show that good things can come out of the bad. If I hadn't moved to Kansas, I would be a totally different person. I don't even know if I would like that person. If I didn't drop out of school, I would be a mechanical engineer. I would't have changed the lives of at least one student. I wouldn't have been through the same hardships that let me empathize with the lives of others. If I was still an elementary school teacher, I might still be stressed out of my mind and depressed without even knowing it.
I'm glad I'm where I'm at and I'm excited to see where I end up even if it's going to contain some rocky roads. Failure (and I have to keep telling myself this too) is an opportunity to learn and grow. Don't let it break you. Let people love you and support you when it gets too hard.
I feel like I still need to grow up. I'm not 100% comfortable with who I am yet. I have parts of myself that are a part of my identity that will never change. I am a teacher. I am thoughtful. I am tall. I love butts. These are things that will forever be a part of who I am. I think growing up for me is trying to figure out all these parts of self-identity and being okay with it. When you tell yourself that you're ugly, stupid, or not wanted by others, it becomes a part of your identity. So please be careful about what you tell yourself.
Thanks for reading all this. It's been building for a while. I hope some of you really enjoyed learning about my life and I hope even a few of you can feel better about your own lives somehow. I love you.