Wednesday, February 24, 2016
With recent hype pertaining to 25 year-old millennial Talia Jane and her "open letter" to Yelp CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman (https://medium.com/@taliajane/an-open-letter-to-my-ceo-fb73df021e7a#.ir3s52eyp), and the backlash that occurred just four days later, after 29 year-old Stephanie Williams, blasted a rebuttal right back at her (https://medium.com/@StefWilliams25/an-open-letter-to-millenials-like-talia-52e9597943aa#.ocn2hy6bc), Stephanie's bold response to Talia's skewed sense of entitlement, got me thinking about my own life. Particularly, life in my twenties.
For those if you that aren't privy to the conflict, Talia thinks that because she makes only $8.00 per hour at her job at Yelp, living in the MOST expensive part of the country - WE, as tax payers, should assist her in paying for her ultra lux lifestyle, including her super expensive burbon fetish, and love for big bags of white rice.
Stephanie, on the contrary, disagrees, stating that Talia should get off of her privileged ass and start looking for additional work, perhaps in other, less satisfactory fields. You know, the "dirtier" fields, like bartending. Serving.
Both of the girls mentioned above were English majors. I too majored in English - with the hopes of one day becoming an editor of some kind, and/or maybe even the author of a novel or two. I still hope to write a book one day, but for now, blogging is my literary outlet of choice. I never thought I would be working in Property Management after I graduated college, but I'm extremely happy with the career choices I've made over the past nine years.
I chose a degree in English, not because I thought I might end up wealthy one day, but because it was a subject that I genuinely enjoyed. I love(d) reading literature and writing papers, and with my blatant failed attempt in Biology, in my first semester at NKU, I knew I had made the right choice to switch - even if I had zero clue where I might end up after I graduated.
I did know one thing, though. I sure as shit didn't want to end up with a boat load of student loans, heading into my retirement still drowning in college tuition debt.
This decision - to stay debt free after college - was single-handedly the smartest decision that I've ever made in my entire life. So, I worked my ass off throughout my college years - mostly in nursing homes - which paid well, even at that time.
The day after I graduated high school, I applied for and was immediately hired at a nursing facility in Batavia, only a few miles from our house. I was able to get my STNA license for free, since the state permitted the facility to provide those courses to new hires. That in itself, saved me a ton of money. The only stipulation was that I had to agree to work there for at least one year, or I would have to pay back the cost of the course, which, at that time was around $1,500.
Anyone who has ever worked in a nursing home knows that it's incredibly difficult. I worked on the Alzheimer's unit, where I was kicked, punched, spit at, and smacked on a pretty regular basis. I balled my eyes out on my commute to and from work for the first six months. I would constantly get called in for mandatory overtime at 3:00 in the morning, even during snow emergencies. I would barely get a day off. But I was young, and needed the money for school, so I trudged on.
When I finally began my first year at NKU, I would commute back and forth on weekends, where I would work 16 hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, and then head back to school Monday morning and start the process all over again.
At the end of my first year at NKU, I realized that out-of-state tuition was costing me double, and I was running out of money, fast. That summer, I made the decision to transfer to UC, Clermont, and gain reciprocity there. After two years, I earned my associates in pre-education and transferred back to NKU, paying less then half of what I shelled out my first year. This is also when I moved out on my own and moved into my first apartment (off campus) with a gal I met at NKU, my first year.
During the summers, I continued to load up on as many hours as I possibly could. Overtime really paid off. At times, I worked more than one job. During the latter part of my college years, I served at various places, and bartended weddings with a girlfriend of mine. I also worked in retail, for seasonal work for a little extra money.
I may not have known where I was going to end up after college, but I sure as hell worked hard to get there. After I finally returned to NKU in 2001, I eventually got a different job at another nursing home in Anderson Township, where continued to work and go to class. At this time, I moved out on my own, roommate free. I lived off of ramen, pop tarts, Campbell's soup, and nursing home food (thank you for the world-famous grilled cheeses, Ryan, you have no idea what a life-saver you were to me, then. Otherwise, I would have starved). I worked and I worked and I worked even more. And I went to class. I studied during lunch breaks, and shopped at second hand stores. There were times that I had to cut back my credit hours here and there, and work even more to get by and pay bills. Some semesters, I was only able to complete one or two courses at a time.
After nine long, excruciating years, I did it! I finally graduated from NKU. Regardless of how long it took, me, I'm proud of myself for all of my hard work; for the stressful cram sessions and the countless sleepless nights.
And now, another nine years later, I don't have to worry about paying off student loans. And that, is something to celebrate. Here's to working for what I've got.