Day 4: I Am Grateful For Opportunities
I don't know how your life has gone, but for most of my adult years, even when times seemed to be at their hardest or bleakest (which in retrospect, they really weren't), there always seemed to be an opportunity that would present itself. Mostly in the form of a job, but definitely something financial, that would help me take care of my family.
From 2013 through all of 2014, those opportunities seem to just dry up. For the first time in my life, it didn't seem to matter what I did, what leads I pursued, or how hard I tried, the opportunities to make a decent living seemed to poof out of existence. I must admit, I did not try working at minimum wage somewhere, so I suppose there could have been some measure of an opportunity there, though I doubt I would have lasted very long.
Ditch the hair and the Porsche jacket, add some pounds and about 30 years—you get the picture.
It was actually towards the end of 2014 that two doors, ones I did not want to consider (and never would have before) opened up. One was for a full-time job in the housekeeping department at the local hospital, the other was a chance to go back to school and earn an Associates degree.
Now, to put this in perspective, the job and going to school were not mutually exclusive. The housekeeping job was for my wife, which she got largely because of her years and years cleaning homes (outside of our own) and her connections with people who worked at the hospital who could vouch for her character.
It was a road I had not wanted to go down, because my wife had not worked full-time since the very early stages of our marriage. And while she had done the housecleaning, she really didn't have to. I had been the primary wage earner throughout, and wasn't looking to change that.
The opportunity to go back to school, however, was mine. And while the job she had was at home, the school opportunity would be in Salt Lake City, Utah.
That would mean spending 14 months or so out of 16 away from my wife. We'd spent a few weeks apart several times during our marriage as she would go down to Mexico to visit family with the kids or alone while I stayed home and worked. This, however, wasn't going to be for a couple of weeks. It would be, at worst, a term at a time, with some breaks in between.
Just for the record, having gone through this, I wouldn't recommend it. Even though I found school worthwhile, the separation was very hard and I think I'm still experiencing the ripple effect from it.
Flashback To 1984-85
I spent a year at Brigham Young University from the Fall of 1984 through the Spring of 1985. Two semesters. While I did okay the first semester, the second semester was a disaster. Not because I couldn't keep up, or wasn't smart enough, but because for the first time in my life, I didn't want to keep up.
Just like nearly every other college freshman, this was the first time I'd been away from home, and like most young men my age, I finally got to the point, after a semester delay, that I just didn't want to do much school. Whether I really knew it or not, my mind was telling me I needed a break. Unfortunately, though, I was enrolled in classes that I didn't always go to or turn in work for. Down went the already middling grade point average from the semester before.
Back to 2015
At 48-years-old, I was back in college, but on academic probation. That meant meeting with a guidance counselor at least once a month. If I kept my grades up for a semester, I would get off probation and could skip the counselor time.
Well, 48-year-old me was about ready to build the time machine and go back and kick 18-year-old me in the rear for being so stupid. There's nothing so embarrassing as atoning for the mistakes of your younger self. For the first couple of visits, it felt like none of the intervening years had happened. Like I'd not matured at all. Not because of anything the counselor said or did, either. He was great. Thankfully, he was older and didn't talk down to me at all.
The saddest thing about this probation was, that last semester at BYU wasn't really me then, either. I was always the responsible one. Much more than my peers. But because of a few months where I got lazy (it wasn't like I really went crazy or had so much fun, either), I paid for it later.
But, instead of wallowing in self-pity or trying to make excuses, 48-year-old me pretty much took care of business. Straight A's in all of my classes, leading out when needed, taking a seat back to kids less than half my age the rest of the time. I did what I had to do. I attended all my classes. I got my work done, and I turned it in. That got me off probation and set the tone for the rest of my school time.
And Now It's 2018
My wife is now in her fourth year at the hospital, and I'm still not-so-gainfully employed. I've continued to run a Facebook page since interning my last semester at college, but I've looked into some Social Media Marketing jobs, as well as doing my own thing, which has included a Patreon page and now Steemit.
For the first time since I shuttered the doors on my business at the end of 2012, I feel like I have a real opportunity to do something. Not just with something I mostly enjoy doing, but with something that has the potential to create financial security for my wife and I throughout the rest of our life together.
That's what Steemit represents to me. An opportunity to regain freedom. Personal and financial.
I don't want to squander it, if I can at all avoid it. I want to take advantage of the opportunity I've been presented with, now that opportunities in general seem fewer and farther between. I don't want a repeat of those years where we were living off of unemployment benefits and then all of the rest of our savings.
This is why I've spent so much time on Steemit. This is why I feel compelled to make things work. And this is why I am grateful for any opportunity, even the small ones, because I know what it feels like to have no open doors. I know our situation was never as dire as many experience and may live in now. And I realize that throughout this we have been greatly blessed. I have tried to hold onto that, too, that the blessings haven't stopped even when the opportunities appeared to dry up.
And for that I am grateful, too.
About This Post
This post is part of the Seven Day Gratitude Challenge started by @conradt. I was invited to participate by no less than two individuals, @practicalthought (who got to me first) and @mariannewest (who figured she'd pile on, too).
As all challenges do, this one has rules:
Write a post about something that you are grateful for—this could be anything from being thankful for your current situation, someone being nice to you, your being kind to someone else, being thankful for your friends and family, etc.
Do this for seven days in a row if you get nominated.
Mention three people who should do this on each day.
Tag the post with #7daypositivitychallenge and include these rules at the bottom of your post.
Include a picture of something positive.
- Instead of picking anyone, since I don't know who's been asked, who wants to, or who has the time, let's just say if you want to do this, go for it. You're officially invited, by me, to do so. :)