Why Do You Go To School?

This was not a question someone asked me. However, I had to temporarily withdraw from school because my 24th birthday has not yet passed and I cannot return until May, after my birthday and when the program restarts. The reason for this is my father and I share the same household, so his tax information was needed and he refused to provide it. In fairness, that wasn’t a surprise nor is it something fair to fault him for. However, my mother mentioned he told her he doesn’t know why I’m going to school.

I wish I could say the truth.

There are the obvious reasons, like not wanting to be in retail for the rest of my life (especially with the nightmare I’m dealing with now), and my previous post shared very personal reasons. but there is one reason I didn’t say, mostly because I feel it’s a grim, perhaps even arrogant, reason.

I do not want to be like my family.

Allow me to say right now I am well aware school is no guarantee of anything. I also know there are several ways to succeed that do not require college, though none I’ve found myself to be adept at. Contrary to what some of my bosses think, I’m not an idiot. I am attending school with hopes, not expectations.

I’ve run this blog long enough for anyone who’s followed for a long time to know my family is not admirable. While I do love them, none of them have footsteps I want to follow in. My dad is one of those people. Life hasn’t been kind to some of my family members, but he’s not one of those people whose situation is due to unforeseen circumstances. He’s in the position he’s in because he wants to be. That position is living at home, being mostly financially supported by his father, while his bills are only those that are convenient to him. He is entirely capable of supporting himself fully, but he chooses not to. He also didn’t graduate high school, but he still turned out to be financially well-off, which I assume is part of why he believes my choice to attend school is a waste of time. Unfortunately, I had to add factory work to my list of things I am not suited for. A friend of mine who made more money than me at a factory told me he does not miss it after he moved to a different state to be with his girlfriend.

How my father chooses to live is not my business, but I personally can’t fathom choosing to be financially dependent. Before getting the pitchforks, note I am not talking about becoming financially dependent for feasible reasons. For example, couples where only one works while another looks after their home and kids, if they have the latter. I’m solely referring to choosing to rely on others’ financial support for no reason beyond you can.

I don’t want to become such a person. I ache for independence, and while I understand not everyone does, it’s my idea of a road block. I want to be capable of completely supporting myself. I want to have more options than taking something unpleasant (in my opinion) to survive. For almost two decades, I was vocal about how much I loathed school, yet I genuinely enjoyed attending this trade school. I hated needing to wake up early, but I looked forward to going. That’s how I want to feel about my job. I’m not suggesting my father hates his job, but he and much of my family have a personal opposition to jobs like retail, fast food, and even office work, so if he loses his job, his options are more limited than they naturally are. I am trying to open my options to find the door to a job that’s more than “tolerable” and “getting by”.

Yesterday, one of my co-workers generously took me home after we closed for the night because I couldn’t be picked up. While we were talking, I mentioned the situation with my school and how I was disappointed. Something she said struck me: “But it’s good you have dreams and you are not giving up.” While I never considered the career I’m aiming for a dream, her words hit me because my boyfriend referred to my goals with the same term: dream. Considering I’m trying again after a disaster with college right after high school, perhaps “dream” is an accurate word. Although, the real dream is a lucrative, enjoyable at-home career, whether through self-employment or a company.

So, let me answer this question. Why do I go to school?

  • I go to school because I want to have more options.
  • I go to school because I want to graduate college.
  • I go to school because I want to have a job I enjoy and lets me fully support myself.
  • I go to school because I hate the limited options I do have.
  • I go to school because I want to avoid the position much of my relatives are in (barring unforeseen circumstances; tragedy is no one’s fault).
  • I go to school because I don’t want to rely on my family forever.
  • I go to school because I want to prove my family wrong.
  • I go to school because I don’t want to give up.

That’s why I’m going to school.

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Motivations

Many people say you should want to improve your life for, above everyone else, yourself. And I have always agreed with that.

However, I believe I can understand how and why it sometimes takes others to really motivate someone to move forward. I liken the concept to how it’s easier to forgive others than ourselves, or how we often see our own faults against everyone else’s spotlight. It’s a wildly different perspective.

Something I often hear about parenting is children tend to motivate them their parents to work toward a better future, either financially, physically, or emotionally. While I have no children, I’ve found I do have a powerful outside motivator: my boyfriend.

At one time, my boyfriend told me he was doing poorly in school until we met. After we did, he began doing very well, to the point he was passing his assignments and tests with flying colors. This would be romantic… if not for the fact we hadn’t met in person yet, let alone become a couple! Answer? He’s a hopeless romantic.

I’ve always (playfully) laughed at him for that story, but it seems the tides have turned, and while he’s not my only motivation, he’s definitely the biggest part of it. Yes, there are things I want for myself in life, like my own apartment and car, but I want him most of all to be a part of any future I have. My answer to the question of where I see myself in five years has changed from “I don’t know” to “With him”. Maybe it’s not a good answer on its own, but it’s what I have and what I feel most confident in. Even when I try to think about myself, he tends to come into it.

“I want to a car… to travel around with him.”

“I want my own apartment… for us to live under the same roof.”

“I want school to work out… so I can get a job in this field and have enough money for both of us in case he loses his job.”

There are other reasons I could give that would make these statements about me. For example, I also want trade school to work out for the sake of getting myself far away from retail, a career path I’ve come to consider to be taken intentionally only by masochists. Yet, I feel stronger about the reasons that boil down to us being physically closer than the ones that boil down to my own independence. And yes, I’d be fine with financially supporting him temporarily if I had to while he looked for other work. He’s better than me at doing domestic chores anyway, so he claims.

This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to better myself if I didn’t have my boyfriend, but I may have less drive to do so. The future frightens me. Having someone to go through it with makes it a little less scary. For a reason I’ve yet to grasp, he often has confidence in me I envy because I can’t find it in myself. Perhaps that’s what makes it easier to fight for someone else: they believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. It’s a different situation than parenting in that his survival doesn’t depend on me, but it is similar in that children usually have unshakable confidence in their parents. Whatever makes him have the confidence in me he does is something I may not understand, but I am ultimately grateful for. Of all the reasons I have, he’s one of the few positive motivations that drive me. I don’t want to be motivated only by getting away or acquiring things, even for the convenience the latter would bring me. Much like I’d only marry for love (if getting married were an active desire of mine), I’d rather be motivated by friendship and love than the ability to run away. I don’t want to feel like I need to run away to improve my life. There’s not much to life if you can only run away. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t want to be alone. It’s not so much that it’s romantic love as it is I have him in my life as someone who does love me and vice versa.

Perfectionism?

I enrolled into a trade school, into a 9-month program, that trains students to become network technicians. The programs treats students as if they’ve never used a computer, so the first class covers the basics of using a computer and the programs of Microsoft Office. So far, I have 28 grades: 22 for ordinary assignments, 2 for midterms, 3 for projects, and 1 for professionalism, which I admittedly don’t really care about because I see it as the equivalent of being awarded for showing up.

26 out of those 28 grades are 100%, which I am embarrassingly proud of, despite the class teaching basics. That’s not to say I’m not learning anything. Just that I don’t think passing basics is a big achievements. It’s basics and I’ve used Microsoft Office for much of my life since I started using a computer at age 5. There’s little reason not to pass.

So, I’m unhappy two of those grades—the midterms, to be specific—are not 100%. Instead, they are each 96%.

I know that is still a good score, but I’m unhappy because I screwed up something I really should not have. The assignments are done with a simulator and it’s very sensitive. Even if the outcome is still correct, each step must be done in order and exact, or it will be marked as “incorrect”. This is what caused the mistake on the first midterm. I accidentally did a step out of order and the simulator forced me to the next question without allowing me to finish, marking the previous as “incorrect”.

The mistake on the second midterm was a result of my own error. It was a question I was unsure of, so I had to take a 50/50 chance and I chose wrongly. I am less upset about that one since I genuinely did not know which answer was correct, but it’s still an error on what was really a simple question. And I do mean simple: I had to click only one button to be moved on, and I clicked the wrong one.

Because of the two 96% scores, my grade average is 99% instead of 100%. Again, I recognize this is still a good score, but it bothers me because it’s not as good as it should be. It should be 100%, but because of two clumsy errors, it’s not. My boyfriend thinks I am a perfectionist. I disagree, but even if he’s right, I am paying for this school and to even my surprise, I like being here, so I take the work seriously. On top of that, I’m doing this in the hopes I’ll gain the skills to be employable to a job besides retail. No, nothing is wrong with retail, and I know people who have worked in retail for over a decade and are happy. While I respect and admire them (because as far as I’m concerned, retail sucks and customer service can kiss my behind), retail is not the career I want for the rest of my life.

I don’t expect sympathy from this post. I’m completely aware I sound ridiculous and probably like a spoiled brat. Note I do not think I’m entitled to a 100% average. No. I want to work for it and that’s why I’m upset. That my work is not up to par, that I’m not doing as well as I should be, and that my clumsiness/ditziness cost me what could’ve been. Never would I think I’m entitled to or I “deserve” a passing grade. I didn’t enroll in this school with the expectation of good grades being handed to me because I got out of bed.

Speaking of getting out of bed, I overslept today and woke up an hour late, so I had to take Lyft to arrive at school on time. Compare that to when I intentionally clocked in fifteen minutes late for work to finish breakfast when I had arrived at work long before I was supposed to clock in for no other reason than I was aggravated I had to be there so early. Granted, it’s easier to be less aggravated when your schedule is consistent, which my school one is.

So Simple, Yet Amazed

I amaze myself. It’s ridiculous, but I do.

I’ve managed to hold down my job. I’ve kept a steady relationship. I’ve traveled outside of the state alone. Most recently, I’m stunned at myself because I resisted using any of my credit (except for an urgent Lyft ride to work, which ended up being free) until I paid off the balance. The payment was already scheduled on my payday and tomorrow, it’ll be fully processed and my balance will be $0.00.

The reason I feel so surprised at myself for these things is they weren’t things I imagined I could do, especially restraining myself from spending. I would say to myself as long as I could get the money back and my account wasn’t at zero, spending it didn’t matter. However, that’s not a good way to think. I almost had myself in over my head with the debts I acquired from overspending. Now, I only have one small debt left to pay. On top of that, there are things I really need to spend money on, like health checkups, which I’ve put off because I despise visiting the doctor. Especially the ones that have to touch my face or lower half. Don’t touch me!

To raise my credit score, I sent for a credit card I was approved for. I don’t know when it will arrive, but it shipped earlier this week. I’ve been advised it’s best keep your credit card use under 15 to 20 percent, though I’m going with 15% to be on the safe side. The card’s limit is $200, so I have only $30 to spend every month if I truly want to keep to that limit. I don’t want the credit card to begin with, but keeping to a $30 spending limit seems impossible for me. Yet, I kept to a zero spending limit with the credit I already have through another until I could pay off the balance. If I can do that, I know I can keep my spending on that credit card under $30. Although, I must admit I feel silly about being excited I can pay bills, but that’s a different subject on its own.

Now, there’s something else I’m hoping I can amaze myself with: sticking to a self-made promise. I’ve been frustrated with myself lately because I’m very scarce when it comes to making artwork, even after purchasing a tablet for solely that purpose back in April. It’s not without reason. I’m often tired and art is not the only hobby I have. A life of only work, sleep, eat, and art in a repeating cycle would be very boring and miserable in my opinion. Plus, it’s possible I may have even less free time than I already do if a certain event happens at my job. But I really do want to create more art. I follow some artists on DeviantArt who seem to pump out artwork like a machine. While I doubt I’ll ever be in that position, I would like to produce finished artwork more than two or three times a year.

I’ve decided to make a list of things I plan to buy over the next months and, related to art, I’ve decided to try to draw at least once a week. I would say every day, but I would be forcing myself on days where I’m exhausted, feeling unwell, or am stressed out, and that’ll only push me to want to throw my tablet out of my window. Even some expert artists (well, as expert as you can be on a site like DeivantArt) agree practicing every day isn’t a good idea unless you want to because it turns art into a chore and that’s exactly why I do so little of it in the first place. I know scrapping ideas is normal, but I have way too many scrapped ones. I want to finish what I start. I feel this’ll soon be a broken resolve, especially if that aforementioned event occurs, but I will try. If I can stick to a resolve not to spend, I can hopefully stick to a resolve to create.

I wonder if it’s really a good sign I feel this way about myself. Is being amazed I’m capable of simple things like restraining from spending too much a sign of my self-esteem growing, or a sign of growing an ego and thinking I deserve something for doing what I should be doing? It feels more like the latter. I don’t think I deserve anything, but feeling proud of myself undeniably feels good. I have no idea where the balance is.

Which Priority Is Which?

I mentioned briefly in my last post I was hoping to move out by my 24th birthday next year. But lately, I’ve been considering postponing that even further.

At 23, I do not have my driver’s license. I’ve wanted it since I turned 18, but I never tried to get it because I didn’t see any point since I’d have no car to drive, and eventually, I forgot about it entirely. Lately, however, it’s been on my mind again due to my job. More specifically, because I’m gaining a growing hatred for public transportation.

The problem here is for the time being, it has to be one or the other: the apartment or the car. I feel like the answer should be obvious, yet I’m having trouble deciding which to make the priority. Both would bring me freedom I crave, but I cannot decide which advantages are worth more.

Advantages of having my own (or willingly shared) apartment:

  • My own living space
  • Living alone, or with my best friend or boyfriend
  • No smoking, drunkenness, and loud noise
  • No one touching my things without my permission (I’m fortunate my boyfriend and my best friend have manners!)
  • Not having to hear gossip or petty complaining
  • Being able to bring my boyfriend to my house almost any time (or my best friend if my boyfriend is my roommate; she’s asthmatic, so I can’t let her come to my family’s apartment)

Advantages of having a car for myself:

  • Not needing to rely on public transportation (except when I travel to visit my boyfriend)
  • More choice in where I can work
  • Less restriction on where I can travel in general
  • Shopping is easier since I don’t need to lug bags on a bus or train (even a bunch of small bags can be a nuisance)
  • More places to go with my best friend and boyfriend (these two awesome people get all the free rides they want!)
  • A small place to go when my family inside wears on my nerves. It’s illegal to live in a car, but not to sit and unwind in it for a while.
  • Aside from an auto accident or something else unforeseen, I’d never have to worry about being late for work because the bus or train is running late (and trains frequently have delays!). I use Lyft’s service in these cases, but their prices fluctuate, so it can get costly.

I’m aware having a car is more than just making monthly payments because there are expenses like repairs and maintenance. Likewise, I realize living by myself or with a roommate in an apartment is more than just the rent, as there are also utilities to pay for. In the case of the car, I still have to get my driver’s license to begin with. Plus, I’m assuming I’ll even be able to find someone to lease an apartment or a car to me (my credit history is nearly non-existent). I fully expect I’ll panic for a period of time and feel like I’m in over my head. But that happens to me with almost everything, so I’m willing to experience that and let it pass.

I’m not sure if I should be deciding which advantages are worth more, or which disadvantages are worth less. I also worry whichever I choose, I’ll regret not taking the other one, but I can’t change my mind on a whim about such a big choice (not without heavy consequences anyway).

I don’t know if this is a sign I’m still trying to fit myself into adulthood, and failing miserably at it, or I’m indecisive and nothing more.