WARNING: This message comes off really pessimistic at first, but it gets better 🙂 Thank you in advance for allowing me to be vulnerable here. It has taken me weeks to feel comfortable enough to share this with you all.
I remember being a child and always having an excuse as to why I couldn’t do something. It was always too cold or too hot, or sometimes I was just plain lazy. I remember being a cheerleader and winning a lot of trophies as a young girl, but they were mainly participation trophies. I hadn’t deserved much of anything more than a pat on the back. Later, in intermediate school I took up band. I remember the instructor saying I should play the bassoon because of my long, thin fingers, so I started playing and won several awards as a band and as a soloist. I was actually good at playing, but if you’ve never heard of or seen a bassoon, you should definitely Google it. I was embarrassed that I played this huge, bulky instrument over the much more elegant flute or violin, and I was always bashful when approached about what instrument I played. Even though I secretly enjoyed being a bassoonist, I quit after two short years because I was afraid to be myself or to become an outcast because of my interests. I probably gave up a scholarship to college now that I think about it.
As time went on, I continued the cycle. From poetry to several different sports, to beta club, math club, etc. I quit everything I was ever a part of that made me feel like I was awkward and stood out. I never wanted to be noticed, and frankly, I still have problems with being the center of attention. I always made myself feel better by telling myself that I had other things I could do, and none of it involved stepping out of my little box of comfort. I was set in my ways, and I chose to settle.
Fast-forward to 19-year-old me: I was a sophomore at the University of South Carolina and I had a really difficult class at the time while also juggling a few off-campus jobs. After watching my grade dwindle down from an A to a B, and then a C, I avoided getting help or seeing a tutor because that would mean I would have to speak up and stand out. On top of that, I had a rough time with a “lemon” car, and it became harder for me to get back and forth to classes and all three of my jobs. Instead of facing adversity head-on and getting help with my class or asking for transportation, I went online and dropped every single class that I was enrolled in. I had dropped out of college. I did this because it was a mechanism I had used time and time again in the past and it always worked. Every single time, it worked. I could easily escape all my problems by quitting! So I did it, I dropped out of college (more on this in a later post).
Then what? I went on to do what I knew best, I continued working and then I would quit. I quit one job and then another. I was always looking for more, but what was it? I wanted something that would help me stay in the shadows of my peers but still allow me to sustain the life I was living and pay my bills. I didn’t have parents or family to turn to for financial stability, but I did have a mother who opened her home back up to me. I remember thinking to myself one day about where I wanted to be in a year, five years, ten years. Then I asked myself, “what am I really doing to achieve these goals?” The answer was absolutely nothing. That summer I enrolled in a couple of classes at the local community college just to see if I was still “bad” at school (mind you, I always had straight A’s and B’s before “the bad class”). After completing the courses with a 4.0, I decided that I couldn’t afford to go back to school just yet and that I would make a living out of being a server for a while until I could save enough money to go back to school without increasing my student loan debt. Again, I doubted myself and was a quitter once more.
A few months later, I was scrolling on the internet and saw an article about the real estate industry and read up on how to become an agent. The next thing I knew, I had signed up for real estate school and used my savings to pay the bill for classes. After two weeks of school from 8am – 5pm, I passed my in-class exam and began to study for the state test to become a licensed real estate agent. I finally had a small light of optimism, BUT (of course) I got side-tracked with work and ended up waiting to take my exam, which resulted in a FAIL. I remember the feeling of self-doubt and “I told you so” on my drive back home to my mom’s house. I was so devastated because I thought for once I could actually do something to change my life that no one I knew had ever done before. It was something different and completely out of my comfort zone. I remember thinking, I’ll just keep serving tables a little longer.
Meanwhile, my entire life was changing before my eyes. I had been traveling a lot, and as I saw more and more of the world, I began to realize that there are so many people out there who have done much harder things, with much more difficult circumstances than me. I met people who brought their families to the United States from impoverished countries thousands of miles away and made a living for themselves in the most expensive city in the United States. I had also seen people who became filthy rich and sat on several degrees, but had nothing to show for it because they were so consumed by material things and one-upping their “friends” that they were not even good humans anymore. Traveling awakened a part of me that I had never known before. It made me want more. I wanted to become more in life than just a quitter. I wanted to be a good, kind human being that could influence others to do the same. It became harder and harder to tell people I had dropped out of college – not to become an entrepreneur or start an amazing business – but to wait tables?? I went back to South Carolina determined and motivated to pass my real estate exam. I stayed up late and studied every night after work until I had memorized all the important things I learned in RE school. I scheduled my exam for a cool December morning. I remember going in anxious but so excited at the same time. I finished the exam and waited for what seemed like the longest five seconds EVER. Finally, I saw a life-changing word appear on the screen:
I was elated to have passed the exam the second time around! Finally, I could say that I had achieved something on my own without quitting. The next step was actually working in real estate and finding the perfect office to practice in. I’ll save that for another post 🙂
Long story short, I found an office in Columbia (it found me, actually) with the BEST agents and Broker-In-Charge/Owner. I moved away from home again, re-enrolled at UofSC a year later, and now I have been in real estate for nearly four years. Letting God have His way and seeing a therapist who taught me positive coping strategies has taken me so far. I can now proudly say I will graduate from college this December with my degree in Public Health and a minor in Women and Genders Studies.
Life is so much more rewarding now. I know what it’s like to not believe in yourself. I never thought I was good enough; my smile wasn’t straight enough, my hair wasn’t fine enough, my skin wasn’t smooth enough, my body wasn’t toned enough. Now I say forget those things and just be you; authentically you. If I had embraced myself at a younger age, there’s no telling how much wisdom and knowledge I would have, or where I would even be right now. BUT, I probably wouldn’t have this testimony to share, and I definitely wouldn’t have so much insight on who I really am. My past has helped me to live a more optimistic and unapologetic life. When I am afraid and faced with adversity, I remember that little girl who was shy and timid, and remind myself that I can do hard things. I can and I will do everything my heart desires because I am living life for ME and no one else. I am sure a lot of people who have met me in more recent years were probably shocked to read the majority of this post, but the girl I was then helped mold me into the woman I am still becoming today. When I made the move back to Columbia in 2014, I chose happiness and positivity over depression and negativity. I now have a renewed spirit and even though I still have bad days, I don’t have a bad life. I do know one thing for sure about my past that is 100% not true today:
I used to be a quitter.
Peace, love and positivity to all ❤️