The Road So Far: School Days

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When I was a kid, I was a natural over achiever.  I was probably the kid most people hate, not probably, I was. I always got high grades without trying hard, did every assignment even if it was extra credit, was well behaved and liked by teachers. I enjoyed learning in school and always did my best. It gave me a sense of pride, pleased my parents and impressed others that I did well in school. My high grades got me accepted into a gifted program in middle school. There was a lot of pressure to do well but most of the work was easy to me. I managed to slack off and still get pretty good grades. I focused on the things I wanted to learn realizing I didn’t have to be great at everything. English had been my favorite for a long time. I spent a lot of time outside of school at the library, still going with my mother most of the time. I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I quickly exhausted the kids section and would wander through the rest of the library. I started reading poetry and a lot of random non-fiction. At one point I started reading about different religions out of curiosity. It made me happy to be able to learn about the things I wanted to. I was often bored at school, studying things that I didn’t care about or see a purpose for.

When deciding on high schools I applied to some vocational schools to study business. It was something that interested me and I always liked working with computers. Since most school work bored me, I wanted to focus on gaining skills and learning about things I was more interested in. I ended up at Chelsea Vocational High School, a small school located in SoHo. I wouldn’t say it was a bad school but I probably could have gone to a better school. Most of the teachers seemed to have low expectations and not many students wanted them to raise the bar.  But for the most part, it wasn’t such a bad place. There were a few teachers that seemed to care, did what they could and encouraged us to work harder. The small environment helped me be less introverted and I learned to be more outgoing. I was on the honor roll, worked on the school paper and was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America club. At a larger school, I would have faded into the background, never really gaining confidence to be more social and outspoken. Though the lack of a challenge and relaxed atmosphere encouraged my slacker mentality. I stopped taking school so serious, it just seemed like a hurdle to getting a job.

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A quick look at my high school days.

While I had dreamed of being a writer it wasn’t something I took seriously. I figured I needed to find a real job. Through the school I got a part-time job as an office assistant at a small company. Though at first I was given trivial task like organizing the bosses office and filing, I enjoyed working and making my own money.  I was challenged to learn new things and I had to show up to get paid. I began working on important bookkeeping tasks. Not too long after, the office manager left and I basically took over her job. I dealt with the responsibility well but eventually became bored and frustrated with the job. While the owner took his time replacing her, I was basically responsible for all the company’s bookkeeping. That was a lot of responsibility to place on a sixteen year old. He finally hired a replacement, I trained her. A couple months before I was going to graduate he decided to downsize and I was laid off. I was upset but I got over it really quickly. I wasn’t happy there and only went in to do what had to be done.

Although I became unhappy with the job, I still enjoyed the work. I started to imagine working on the business side of publishing or working in marketing and advertising. I also contemplated business journalism. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I considered a lot of different possibilities. While I still had hopes of being a writer, I didn’t really pursue it too actively. I began to read about writing, and discovered magazines like Poets & Writers. I entered a few contest and maybe tried submitting to a magazine. Mostly I only received offers to be published in an anthology I had to buy, in other words scams. Becoming a writer seemed like a lot of work for very little payoff. Intimidated by the idea that only best selling authors made enough money to survive off writing alone, I didn’t think I’d have a chance. While I started contemplating other career paths it was the dream job, if it came easily enough. By that time my full slacker attitude had been cemented. School was a breeze and socializing had become more of a priority. Being more social I was able to connect with kids outside the classroom and make some close friends. I felt I had missed out when I was younger and made up for the loss time. I frequently cut classes to hang out at the handball courts on West 4th street and spent time outside of school hanging out with friends. I let writing and working fall into the things I had to worry about later on. I wanted to enjoy being a kid, instead of rushing to grow up and figure out what I wanted to be. I thought that eventually things would just fall into place. I’d go to college figure out what I wanted to do, then get a job. Things didn’t really turn out that way.

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