How I Became a Man of Character


Becoming a Man of Character. Personal Development, Self-improvement, Stories of Sacrifice and Triumph

Have you come to a place in your life where up is down and right is left?

Perhaps on this journey of self-improvement and self-discovery, you've met many obstacles and felt like a failure.

I know how that feels, because that used to be me.

If you want to hear my story and how it can help you be a better man or woman, read ahead to see my change from lost to found that will help you improve:

*Self-awareness

*Self-knowledge

*Important life skills

*Identity/self-esteem

*Strengths or talents

 

Let's start from the beginning so that we can be off to the races.

I want to tell you all a story about exactly how i got to where I am. In 2004, I graduated from high school. Yes, I'm in my 30s even though I don't look like it. I graduated with an academic scholarship to go to Georgia Southern University. Promptly failed out after the first semester because I was simply not ready to be grown. So I went back home and worked a couple dead end fast food jobs until I eventually scraped up enough money to move back to Statesboro and lie to myself about going back to school.

I spent a year as an assistant manager at Sam Goody and within that time managed to get kicked out by my roommates because I told the guy roommate that his wife was cheating on him and I proved it. Well that was an interesting lesson in not getting in between a couple like that because he took her back and kicked me out. Never again. So I found myself back home again and this time I started working in a furniture factory making couches. Pay was ok. Arguing with my pop everyday because my life wasn't what he thought it would be wasn't.

I did that for about 6 months when I called my grandmother in Augusta and said "would you let me come stay with you. I'm really just trying to get my life together." She agreed reluctantly. November of 2007. I started working 2 jobs. One at a call center taking calls for verizon prepay and working at FYE in the Augusta Mall. One day I was sitting in the break room at Si-Hell (Sitel is the real name) and I thought "ya know? Maybe I should go back to school and actually do it right this time." The effed up thing was that I had to start all the way over as a freshman because none of my GSU credits transferred. Womp womp. But I scraped up my HS transcripts and applied to Augusta State University. Insta-accept. Started from the bottom. Immediately knew I wanted to go into chemistry. Still working 2 jobs. Added a third during my sophomore semester. Why? I had to get the hell out of my grandmother's house so I was saving up to get my own place. I got one of them old school southern grannies that wanted to know where you were every step of the way. Freedom came at the beginning of Spring 2010 when I did move into my own place. I called it my trap apartment because it was in a poor, but quiet part of Augusta. It was around this time that I met Eunice who would become my girlfriend of 5 years and maybe longer. That summer and spring I worked my ass off to get this scholarship so that I could stop working and go to school full time. In fall of 2011, the dream came true. I quit all 3 of my jobs and focused on school and research full time. My girlfriend who wasn't my girlfriend at the time and I were estranged then even though we still took some classes together. I also managed to get involved with this lil married trailer park girl that was my study partner in biochemistry. That was interesting and one of the reasons that I landed my first A in my upper level chemistry classes.

I was a C student in chemistry because I had to work so much the semesters before. Near the end of Fall I thought "maybe I'll go to grad school." I found myself at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's chemistry open house, where I eventually ended up going to graduate school. That summer I worked at Knology just to pay some bills and tie up some loose ends. Eunice and I were still kinda estranged until she realized that I was leaving and not coming back. She came to visit the night before I left and we just talked. Little did I know that wouldn't be the last time we saw each other.

 

I moved to Knoxville in August of 2012, bright eyed and ready to take on the world of grad school. A month passes by and I randomly call Eunice while I'm in the store one night and we talk for what felt like hours. It was only 20 minutes or so. "I'm happy to hear from you. I'm glad that you're doing ok." "Yeah me too. You should come visit sometime. I think you'd like it here." Fast forward about a month later and she does just that and we start dating. Welp she visits several times after that and I convince her to move to Knoxville with me since she was graduating and in the chemistry program too. She comes. I'm happy. I finish my first year after having my apartment broken into by some crazy meth'ed out cam girl that lived upstairs from me. Around this time I'm still good with living in Knoxville but I move out of that apartment to another one about 5 miles away. Knox Landing. I stayed there for 2 years. Within that 2 years: *I successfully got into PhD candidacy *Experienced several growing pains in my relationship with Eunice *Got ousted as the social chair for the chemistry department because I thought most of the students were bratty alcoholics *One of my favorite cousins, Toyian, died shortly after he came to visit me *Trayvon Martin was killed *My research became a drag I fell super hard into good ole grad school depression and a cycle of victimhood that was incredibly hard for me to break out of with all of the police brutality stuff going on. In April 2015, Eunice and I move in together, which was a huge step for both of us. I was happy though and I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of the few things I actually looked forward to that year. Mostly because we spent the Christmas before at my parents house. First time I'd ever brought anyone home. I learned so much about her past that I didn't know that she was finally comfortable with revealing to me. As we sat in my parent's driveway, I responded, "I don't care about any of that stuff. It doesn't make me think less of you. I'm just glad that you got to a place where you can tell me. We got this. We'll get through it. Don't worry." It was then that I knew that come hell or high water, I wouldn't leave her after what she had just told me. She needed a partner in crime and I was happy we picked each other.

 

The next two years were a struggle for me personally. I got more and more depressed with the daily grind of grad school and problems that Eunice and I were having. At the time, I just did not know what to do. I had completely isolated myself from my family and it was just me and her. I did my best and at times, it just wasn't good enough. I'm ok with admitting that. It didn't stop me from trying though. We have a roller coaster of ups and downs. Our good times were euphoric and when we hit a great upswing in march 2017, I got fired from my teaching duties at UT. Long story short, I gave some students my keys to one of the teaching labs to move an experiment into their lab drawers. I was in the middle of doing a job interview, or else, I'd have gone up myself. Well the associate department head uses that as cause to fire me saying I put the students at risk. I and several other professors thought it was completely bogus and it was. However, there wasn't much I could do about it. So not only am I only getting half pay for the next 5 months, I'm forced to graduate in the summer because my adviser couldn't support me on a full research assistantship going into fall. I fouled up reaaaaallll good. And that was basically the beginning of the end of mine and Eunice's relationship and I knew it. She had to pick up the financial slack for both of us and she's barely making more than I am with a full salary. That month I decided to start my own podcast, thinking that eventually I'd be able to monetize it. I knew it would be a slow burn, but I had to do something, and that's the only thing I could think to do at the time. The cast does ok, but I never see any cash off of it. What I did see was a ton of lives I was able to change though, which was great and all, but didn't put cash in my pocket, which is what I really needed. We hit the summertime and I finish up my dissertation at the same time that Eunice finds a job in Atlanta. "I know you don't have a job right now but I really want you to come stay with me." I was left with one of the toughest choices of my life. In my mad rush to finish my dissertation, I hadn't found a job. I wanted to go back and live with my parents because the strain of her having to carry our financial load for 4 months just made me feel less than and I didn't want her to keep having to do that. But if I don't go with her, she may feel like I'm abandoning her and I don't want that either. So I move with her. August passes and I just sleep. 5 years of grind just all of a sudden stopped one day. I left the chemistry department one last time across the footbridge with Memory Lane by Nas playing in my head. I reach my car with my box full of trinkets that I had sitting on my desk. One of them was a small wooden statuette of Ganesha, the hindu elephant god known as "The Destroyer of Obstacles." I put them inside and sit down in the drivers seat. Immediately I'm overwhelmed with emotion and tears start streaming down my face. I was finally done. I was ready to start my new life. The better life that I had promised Eunice once I was able to get through this. A funny thing happened. That life never came.