Growing up my parents owned a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant was very successful and my parents slaved away many years there. They had bought the huge place when I was quite young, and I still remember the excitement of knowing that I had access to large pints of ice cream whenever I wanted.
Our dining room table was a prep table, my siblings and I ordered our meals from the cooks behind the line (or my parents) and we carried our dirty plates afterwards over to the dishwasher. When I would have friends over I would always ask my father to allow us to dress up and go eat in the restaurant-just like we were customers.
I saw the waitresses pull stacks of dollar bills from their aprons and as soon as I could talk my father into it-I was a waitress. But not for long. I was only ten years old and the customers thought my parents were enslaving me to their whim-they didn’t realize it had been my constant nagging that had allowed it.
I wanted to make money and I want to shove dollar bills in my apron.
School was always a sidestep for me. It was fun in the beginning, but quickly became a place to socialize and play. I was an active kid and sitting still was never a strong point of mine-still isn’t. But I loved all the paper supplies used in a classroom, the scissors, glue and chalk always had me reeling. I often played teacher with my little brother and sister and was eventually the one who taught them both how to read.
I absolutely loved to read and learned as early as I could. When I was very young I had asthmatic problems and would stay up all night reading and looking at books. Getting lost in their stories and wonderlands always allowed me the escape that I longed for. Life was a speed bump I was looking to jump over.
I never wanted to be a student. I was in private school until eighth grade when I entered the horrors of public school. I hadn’t been taught the social lessons of gossip or cliques because my small private school classrooms only held a handful of students. Seperate grade levels were meshed together and so no one could fight for very long.
I was barraged with my naivety in the social circle and it wasn’t long before I was getting in all sorts of trouble for speaking my mind or being honest. If someone wanted to know if I liked another person I would answer honestly-usually to my detriment.
And the public school teachers were distant. They seemed tired and irritable compared to my previous teachers who would get excited about turning a page.
By the time I reached high school it was all my parents could do to get me to attend. If it wasn’t a subject I was interested in I would sleep in class, cause chaos or just not attend whenever I could get away with it.
I hated it. And I don’t use that word often. I hated the social network of groups and I hated what they thought of me. I never found my place in any group throughout high school and I never really wanted to. I found friends and comfortable places-but only for moments.
I wanted to travel and see life. I felt the important lessons couldn’t be taught or found in any book. I loved to write and read, but they were my weapons and sidekicks for getting through life. I could divulge my innermost self on white pages and I could get lost in black letters.
I somehow made it through high school-not sure how, but I did. The day I graduated, to this day, is one of my top-if not the top day of my life. I was free. No longer would I be ostracized for being this way or that-I could be myself and screw everyone else.
I did get my cosmetology license after high school, but it took me years to finish it because I kept moving away and going off on adventures. After I was done, I was a hairstylist, but not even for a year before I once again took off. That time I stayed away for a long time.
I traveled and lived. I scraped by with tiny amounts of money and slept in my car when I needed to. I had a cowboy hat I would wear when I was heading to a new destination and a knife in my back pocket-I was hot stuff.
The decision to re-enter college was one I knew I would make at some point. I never realized how difficult it would be to come back to a life of sitting and listening after being the driver for so long. I didn’t comprehend what it would mean to try to be an adult balancing work and school, and I didn’t know that I might wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t have started it earlier.
Being in school now isn’t always easy for me. I don’t sit still well and my listening abilities come and go. I still don’t believe most of what I hear in class and have a difficult time agreeing with the assignments and tests. I don’t understand why school has to be so structured and I dislike someone telling me what I have to do.
However, I love UNC and am very proud and blessed to be there. I am enamored with my professors and have grown leaps and bounds in the two semesters that I have been there. I can only imagine where I will be when I graduate.
But graduating is certainly what I am looking forward to. See, the difference between me and many of those that I share class with or eat next to is that I am a worker bee. I grew up in a family that knows work and so it is second nature to me.
I will always want to learn and grow, but I prefer life at a fast paced scale. I like knowing that my success is something I can make happen and I like feeling like I am in control.
I know that school isn’t something that I should rush through so I am enjoying every day, but in the end I will accomplish most when I have the freedom to make it want I want it to be.
As my step-father always said, “having a job is a privilege.” And that certainly rings true in today’s climate.