Yesterday on the telephone, my pastor asked me when was I going to go to school. The unexpected question startled me and I stammered out an incoherent response, so she continued by asking me if I wanted to work where I’m employed for the rest of my life. The rest of the conversation revealed that this question was really a thinly-veiled compliment, and I must admit that it has me thinking about things.
I was the first person from my immediate family to graduate from high school. I don’t think any of my grandparents had either, so it felt like quite an accomplishment to receive that diploma and I remember beaming with pride as they all watched from the audience.
I had one English/History teacher in high school that would urge me to go to college, reminding me that my grades were good enough to get at least a partial scholarship. College really wasn’t on the agenda, as neither of my parents had even discussed that option with me. So, a couple of days after graduating, I became a full-time employee at the place I still work 15 years later.
My employment actually began at the age of thirteen, when I went to work during the summer months with my father. I would sweep or do other janitorial type jobs for a few hours and then basically sit and wait for the end of the work day to grant my freedom. It was a good learning experience for me, because it taught discipline and allowed me to have some money of my own.
That working arrangement continued until I was in high school and old enough to drive. I worked an hour or two after school until I was a senior and was allowed to co-op. I would attend the classes required to graduate and then leave to finish out the day at work.
I have been allowed great freedom to grow at my company, going from performing manual labor all day to being able to have a desk job that entails quite a bit of computer skill. Much of the initial computer knowledge was gleaned from a coworker, but I have managed to learn quite a bit on my own.
So, technically, this year marks twenty years of employment at the same company and I’m only thirty-three. I doubt many people can claim that and I consider it somewhat of an achievement, but there are regrets.
I really wish that I had went straight to college after high school and chosen a career that is more inline with my interests. Now I’m at the point that I could only attend night classes and it would take much longer to complete a degree.
I also feel that I have missed out on many different experiences in life because I’ve been with the same business for so long. What incredible friendships and career opportunities have passed me by as I remained in my comfort zone, scared of taking risks by trying something new?
It’s kind of a shame to be my age and still not know what I want to be when I “grow up”, but unfortunately I have no idea. Knowing what I enjoy is one thing, but turning those interests into a profitable career is another thing entirely.
Maybe one of these days I’ll figure it out.