Tell Your Story

I recently made the decision to reapply to college. I’ve been in a service industry for the last 5 years and decided that it wasn’t my calling in life. Here is the letter I sent to the administration explaining why this time, college will be different for me:

Over 5 years ago, I was a college student with no real idea for the future. I had just broken up with a fairly serious girlfriend, was skipping classes to go play basketball with some friends, and enjoying my scholarship taking care of tuition. It wasn’t my money, so no big deal. I left the university because I didn’t know what career I wanted for myself and it had suddenly dawned on me that the loans I was still taking out WERE my money. I was working part time at a restaurant and making menial amounts of money when I could. Over the next three years, I worked my way up to assistant manager. I worked hard over those three years, sometimes pulling 60 hour weeks, all with the goal of impressing the higher ups and earning a store myself. Two years ago, I had a mild mental breakdown, both of fear that I would never achieve my goal, and lacking any real substance in what I was doing. I didn’t realize the second part until later. I took a step back for about six months, then slingshot my way into my own store in June of last year. I had reached my goal. But after the shine had worn off, I realized something was still missing. I thought that the success, the acknowledgement from my peers and bosses, and the pay raise would fulfill that void. Shockingly (I know), it did not. I want to make a difference in whatever I do, and while I acknowledge that the service industry is actually a great place to do that, I’m not happy in my role. There is something else out there that I can do to have an impact and maintain my wellbeing as well. I used to think that contentment and fulfillment came with the standard definition of success: money, possessions and a big house. And for some that may be a reality. But my reality is that things like mental, physical and emotional health, time to think (I’m an introvert) and enjoying the work that I do to help people are the things that fill my life. I did not approach my college experience under the right circumstances in the past. I approached it like an immature teenager. But at 26, I’m ready to embrace it fully and pursue my life of purpose.

I started writing it benignly, mostly just wanting to accomplish the goal of getting back into the university in good standing. Along the way, however, I realized it was my opportunity to tell a piece of my story. I’ve toyed with the idea of a book, not necessarily because I think I’m that fantastic of a writer, or because I have an incredibly strong story to tell, but because I want to get it out of me. It’s purely a selfish thought. I tapped into an emotional part of myself and soon the words were pouring out.

I write all this to say: while the letter was obviously a “selfish” posting, it was also my realization that we should all tell our story. Even if we think it’s “boring”, “uninteresting” or “nobody will care”, I would argue that it’s of benefit to yourself. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your past, while also realizing that those mistakes or failures shaped you into who you are now. It can also lay the foundation for the future, and detect some underlying passions that you have. Tell your story, in whatever medium you see fit. Even if no one will see it.