I believe I am very fortunate to have listened to my “inner voice”. This direction has helped me to pursue and transform my passions and interests into a successful career.
As a young boy I loved things mechanical. I first learned to repair my wagon and then my bicycle. As an adolescent, my interest in cars progressed with my hands-on skills. I experimented repairing my older brother’s car even though I was too young to drive. With every repair there was a feeling of success and I would involve myself in repair projects for hours many times late into the evening. Friends would visit me in my parent’s garage and we would “hang out” and work on our cars. This environment was very enjoyable, challenging and rewarding…. to me. Unfortunately, my parents were not enamored to say the least with “those cars” and discounted them as “dirty, messy and lowering their real estate value”.
Being an academically challenged student did not help my relationship with my parents. They would tell me that I was not trying hard enough and that I should be more like my brother the “A” student. Algebra was my nemesis. This dysfunctional support came mostly from my father, a Greek immigrant and successful restaurateur with a 6th grade education. My father wanted us “to have the education that he did not have.” We were all to become doctors and lawyers. Being an auto mechanic or not going to college was out of the question.
I transferred from private school to public school which was wonderful because public school offered Metal Shop and Auto Mechanics classes. I was in Heaven. It was 9th grade. During these high school years, I drifted emotionally from my family. They failed to recognize the natural interests and talents I possessed so I decided to spend as little time at home as possible. I preferred to spend time with my friends and their parents who complimented me on my industrious skills. These relationships were a positive influence on me because I would help friends with their auto related problems and was rewarded with words of support and invitations for dinner or holiday meals. Believing I was on the right track, I took every Auto Mechanics class that my school offered and honed my skills further working at a service station after school and on weekends. My academic grades were poor but passing and automotive was straight A’s.
After graduating from high school, I started a small business restoring and reselling Volkswagens. I continued my automotive training at a local community college and received a Certificate of Competence in Automotive Technology. Armed with this certificate and other licenses, I opened an automotive pre-purchase inspection business to assist private used car shoppers. It was then that I realized my business was combining my strongest skills that gave me the most enjoyment – working with cars and helping people.
Today, I am a full-time college professor in the field of Automotive Technology at a community college. I am a college senior preparing to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Education. The inspection business has evolved to offer forensic inspection services to attorneys that specialize in automotive law. I enjoy each and every day of fun (not work) helping young automotive students develop their skills. Many of my students face similar challenges I experienced at their age. Looking back, I believe my inner voice has been my guiding light or perhaps a connection to a higher force leading the way. When people criticized me my inner voice told me I was OK. My inner voice has been my partner and a true friend confirming that I am a good person boosting my self-esteem and confidence when I doubted myself. I am happy with my life choices because I trusted my “inner voice.”
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