When I was in college, I was a waitress. I worked at a Logan’s Roadhouse while attending Illinois State University. I was working hard towards my education degree and needed to support myself after moving into an apartment with two of my friends. Despite the mega loans I had taken out of the bank to pay for my education, it didn’t seem to cover all my expenses.
I was going to school full time, working (practically) full time, and there were times where I just wanted to give up and quit. However, I knew I couldn’t. I had bigger goals and dreams to accomplish in my life. One of these goals was being graduating college and obtaining a teaching position in a good school district.
There are certain points in everyone’s life when they don’t necessarily feel like they are where they should be in life.
When I was waitressing, sweating my butt off, and yelling “yee-haw!!” to every boy and girl who had a birthday, I could certainly not see the light at the end of the tunnel. There were tears over rude customers, frustrated feelings about not having enough time to hang out with my friends, and most nights — I wanted to go to bed at a decent hour instead of working until 1 AM sweeping peanuts off the floor of a restaurant.
I won’t lie to you — it was good money. It was really good money. And the people I worked with were fantastic. They became a second family for me, and I rarely really didn’t want to go into work.
I like to think of this as a stepping stone in my life. Waitressing was not my ultimate goal (teaching was), but I had to waitress in order to make my way to my next goal.
When I graduated college, I chose to move back home with my parents (and brother, and sister… and brother in law — but that’s a whole other story) to save money so I could pay back student loans, pay off my car, and begin saving for a place of my own. There were many days (read: a lot) when I was frustrated. I was mad. I was annoyed that I was 22 years old and didn’t want to make my bed just because my dad told me to. But I did it anyways. Why? I had bigger dreams, and I knew living back at home was one way I could achieve my goal.
I have always been a planner — have always known what my next five or six steps were going to be in life. But sometimes, things come along where you’re not sure why a certain stepping stone has been put in your path. I like to think I respond well to speed bumps (the big ones — not ones like this). When a speed bump is something big and I know I can’t control the outcome, I accept it. One mantra I try to live by (it’s hard) is “change what you can, and accept what you can’t”.
Even if a situation in your life comes along that you don’t understand, it’s mean to be in your life for a reason. You know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to not understand at that exact moment. It’s okay to be mad because it’s not what you had in store for you life.
But I can promise you, yes — promise you — that the detour your life is taking, the path that your life is leading you to, will ultimately lead you to your hopes and dreams if you hold onto them.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
- Harriet Tubman
It also helps to have others who know your dreams, who know your goals, and believe that you will make them a reality. My family and friends never doubt me. When I say something is going to happen, it will — they know I have the drive. When I was waitressing in college, on my last night before I left because of student teaching, I can still vividly remember what my favorite manager told me. He said:
“Chelsey, from the moment I hired you, I knew you had ‘it’. I knew that you weren’t going to be here forever. While I would love it if you could stay, I know that you are leaving to be something better. I always knew you were going to make it.”
And I did.
Question: Have you encountered stepping stones in your life? Were you able to still achieve your ultimate goal?
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