I was seventeen when I graduated from high school in New York; it felt kind of unusual considering most kids were eighteen. I was an average student. I guess you could say I was one of those students about which teachers commented, “He’s so bright but just doesn’t apply himself.” I kind of skated by in high school, knowing that I could have done better. Instead I rather just chose to squeak by. I didn’t get into many of the colleges I applied to; in fact, I only got into one. At age seventeen I believe it’s pretty hard to determine what you really want out of life, in actuality, I really had no clue.
I went to state college with the same mentality that I had in high school–to just skate by and get through. I had never lived on my own before college. Actually I was kind of a sheltered child, never really experimented with much of anything. With the overwhelming new experiences of college and independence, I quickly took a path of self destruction. Partying, drugs, alcohol, girls, and skipping class are only some of the things that led me to get kicked out, only four months in to my freshman year.
I was called into the Dean’s office one day to be told that I would not be attending the institution any longer. Quietly, I went back to my dorm room and packed up my clothes and belongings to begin my drive home. I’ll never forget that long drive. I kept thinking to myself, “Nolan what are you going to do now?” When I returned home, my mother took me in with open arms. She assured me everything would be okay, but I knew she was wrong. As the tears streamed down my face, I now realized I failed a chapter in life in which so many kids don’t even get the opportunity to have.
I failed to hold any job and continued my drug and alcohol abuse. I refused to get any help. After three long rough years my mother called me in to the kitchen, much like the dean did, and told me that I was no longer welcome. I didn’t understand at the time how she could do something like this, but when I think about it, I couldn’t blame her. I felt so abandoned and alone. She wrote me a small check to get started, and now I was officially on my own. I quickly realized that my life was starting over.
Living on my own and moving from here to there has always been hard, but somehow I have always managed to make ends meet. I cleaned myself up over the years and quit my path of destruction, but still I was always scared to try to start over. I felt I was getting too old and that ultimately I would just fail all over again. I realize over the years that I was just a child back then, and forgiving myself was the hardest part. Eventually I believed even though I ended a chapter in my life early when I was only seventeen, it was going to be okay to start over.
Eight years later and now I am twenty five. I have a good steady job and I am attending community college in the state of Florida. I am majoring in business marketing and believe I have a very bright future ahead of me. I may not be as smart as everyone else is, but I know I am one step smarter now than when I was seventeen. I believe starting over is a fear for many people, whether it is because of age, intelligence level, or a number of different reasons. It’s a challenge that is not easily faced and even harder to overcome. I encourage everyone to realize that no matter what you or anyone else says, make sure you always remember “It’s okay to start over. “ This I believe.
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