Backtracking my life to remove some mistakes

I often talk about my experiences with employment and all the problems I’ve encountered. I’ve discussed the sexism, ageism, immigration and every thing related. I’ve discussed how I am skilled and come so close, only to get rejected. What I rarely, if ever, discuss is how someone like me got here.

Let’s go back to my junior year in high school to see what went wrong.  My junior year I was an impressive student with honors classes, a high GPA and a letter in cross country. I was considering a career as a psychologist and had the grades to do it. I enjoyed journalism and many other activities but figured they would be just hobbies. Except Spanish, I was figuring with my very high Spanish grade (I would be promoted into the honors Spanish program) that could be my major. I started getting flyers from colleges galore and many were already starting to come visit me at school.

However, I started getting recruited by the military branches and considered going into the reserves or ROTC. The Air Force in particular kept calling me to offer me a ROTC scholarship. Stupidly, I fell for the navy. The navy didn’t offer me a scholarship, nope, instead they told me I was too stupid to get ROTC or reserves and the only way I would get in the military was as enlisted. I enlisted, to the dismay of my school counselor and my parents who all thought I was better than that for lack of a better word. I would go to pre boot camp meeting where both ROTC students and enlisted students were and noticed something funny: the kids in the ROTC were in my classes, the enlistment kids were not (they were mostly remedial kids). This should have been my clue but was so brainwashed by the navy telling me how wonderful boot was and how you got lots of money for nothing and I could start college right away paid for! My thinking was after boot I could then attend college but they don’t tell you this may not happen.

In another post I will discuss what did happen in boot but let’s just say I was not the best recruit. Ever see Private Benjamin? Sort of like that. I did get a medical discharge so while I was at boot a month I did get money.  I was discharged in May and as it turned out got out a week before high school graduation (I graduated that previous January). I was able to attend my graduation and the senior athlete breakfast. Of course because I turned down scholarships and colleges (thinking the navy would take care of this)this meant I couldn’t attend college in the fall. So that fall I saw my classmates all leave for school while I was stuck at home working a variety of horrible jobs. The worst was when a childhood friend came into McDonalds where I was cashiering and talking about her scholarship and her happiness. Like her I was in the top 10 percent of the class but made a foolish decision without thinking.

So that summer I had some extra money and decided to take a class in psychology at the local community college. I got bored because it was summer and who knows why but didn’t reach my full potential. I decided to go back to school but found I waited too long for financial aid. I waited for the following fall and found I received a full scholarship,  including books, and a stipend. I discovered community colleges really like honors students because so few go there. I attended a full year and did mostly well except for a conflict with my job at Venture during the fall season. By the following season I was modeling which fit perfect.

The following fall I decided to go to a school about a half hour away and since I didn’t have a car, to come home on weekends. Because I was a bit older than most sophomores (I should have been a senior at this point)I didn’t fit in. By now I had switched from psychology to communications and had a radio show. I lasted there a semester and I returned the following summer (the one about 18 months later) to  the community college to take several classes. The winter after that I started broadcasting classes at an art college known for their program. I attended for a year and didn’t return for a few years due to money issues. In the meantime I worked in radio, and public relations and modeled and took more summer classes at the community college. When I did return to the college to finish my degree I was two semesters shy of my BA. I finished it, and decided to go for a MA in communications. By this time I was still working in radio but not as much because there weren’t as many jobs. However I thought with a MA it would give me options. It actually did, I got offered several jobs, and took the one I now regret.

As it turns out, I am returning to the school where I received my MA and getting a degree in counseling. Since I attended over 12 years ago it has gone from a commuter college mostly with older students to one where they now have undergrads and dorms. Incidentally, the art college I mention did the same thing and the second time I attended felt weird because of it. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I stuck with my original psychology major and chosen better job wise. I like to think I would have attended college on scholarship and now be in god financial shape. I also wish I had realized that I had plenty of options, only I didn’t see it at the time.

4 thoughts on “Backtracking my life to remove some mistakes”

  1. Actually, I almost got ‘conned’ by a US Navy recruiter after I graduated from college. I now think of the US Navy as a big high school full of ‘cliques of people’ you would not want to ever spend time with—especially on a ship at sea for six months or more! The Navy is about ‘fitting’ socially in the US Navy. That is why they did not want you as an officer. You should take that as a reflection on your personality being that of a ‘creative’ person.. Do not feel bad. The truth is that in spite of your ‘life choices’ you are where you are in your life. You, in all honesty, would be where you are even if you had started college right out of high school. I have a friend from my university days that joined the U.S. Navy after he graduated from university. with He has a degree in meteorology. He was enlisted, and not an officer. He served six years as a weather forecaster, and then got a job in the private sector doing that in San Diego, California. Then he got laid off, and ended up back in Pennsylvania living with his parents and working at Lowe’s on the night shift. He now lives with his mother in the same house he grew up in. So, in spite of all his efforts he basically should’ve just gotten a job locally after graduating from high school. He should have never gone to college. Because in the end all the time, and effort he spent doing that was money lost because he was just going to end up back where he started from, anyway. The truth is the following: only the blessed ones have careers that continue to provide a living income until they retire. The rest of us get thrown away starting in our late 30s. So, don’t dwell on decisions you made in the past because as long as you were having fun then that’s all that really counts, anyway. Rather, ask yourself why you aren’t having fun anymore. And, then ask yourself what you will have to do differently to get ‘fun out of life’again. .

    1. Yeah though I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I had pursued psychology then. Hard to say but at that point was still obsessed with things like becoming famous that I probably would have done the same thing. Yeah, not to stereotype but I knew the first day when I got to boot that I made a big mistake. I am a free spirit and the military doesn’t allow this. Not only that but most of those in boot with me were either like me (conned basically)or had no other choices. It can be a great job for those who are right for it but at 18 I wasn’t (and very few are). I know if I didn’t have physical issues I would have been discharged for bad conduct or something like that. Until the last few years I always felt bad about this until I met members of the Legion. A few became close and I would tell them things.

  2. The Navy might be the most restrictive in terms of how things are done because of the need to go to sea. One of my friends in college served three years in the Navy, and he had very little in the way of personal belongings. It was a point of pride for him to be able to get everything but the furniture into a few sea bags.

    There are nonjudicial punishments short of court-martial or a bad conduct discharge that might have gotten your attention, such as restriction to quarters or reduction in rank. More likely, the Navy might have discharged you for “failure to adapt”. It’s too bad that you didn’t make it to 180 days on active duty. You would have had veterans preference for the rest of your life, which can be significant in terms of getting both state and federal employment.

    I was talking with a Navy recruiter about 30 years ago, and he told me that despite my bachelor’s degree in engineering and MBA, the best place the Navy had for me was an an enlisted pharmacist’s mate. I wasn’t interested in joining, but when they buttonhole you on campus, it’s rude to tell them to go away..

    1. I got discharged due to a variety of medical issues, namely bad ankles that were later diagnosed as arthritic. In fact when I was in MEPS the nurse didn’t want to send me because I was hobbling on them but I convinced her it was a temporary thing. It hasn’t hurt me getting government jobs oddly and one place needed to see my DD214 because they had a policy of not hiring people with certain discharges, like dishonorable or other than honorable. Because it was less than 180 days (It was a bit more than 30 active but a year on inactive)I got an entry level separation. This was back in 1989 and back then they really didn’t want many women and I only went in because they classified me as Hispanic and they didn’t have their Hispanic quota. Weird but back then women were discriminated against severely in the military (because it was falsely assumed they were taking a guy’s job). There were exceptions of course (like nursing)but enlisted women weren’t even open to many jobs.

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