At the very last minute of my senior year in high school, I was accepted into the Illustrious Spelman College. I hadn’t done my research but I was excited because I had been lazy with applying to schools and this came right on time. I didn’t have to leave Atlanta or my family. It felt like the right choice at the time.
At a later date, I realized it was not the right choice. Spelman is a great school but very expensive. The financial aid I thought I’d have fell through. I had grants & scholarships that still didn’t add up. I was trying to raise my tuition from basically scratch, all the while attempting to be a great student. It didn’t work out that way. By the end of first semester, I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay. I had a balance that would only grow had I stayed so I took myself out. I packed my bags and went home to my parents.
Most would think that at this point, everything’s fine. I’ll admit it was hard having to leave but I took on the role of being dependent. So, in my head, all my problems were gone. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was technically an adult or that adults take care of themselves. I figured it’d be just like high school where I’d be taken care of until I got back to school. Negative.
My parents weren’t strict or mean or just hurtful. They were however, very honest with me: living with either one of them was not an option. Y’all, I felt that my world had been crushed. I was upset at them because I felt like I was being abandoned. I was confused because this wasn’t where I was supposed to be At this point in my life. I was an array of emotions, everyday at every hour. And I had no idea how I was going to get it together.
It was the beginning of 2016. I was facing not having anywhere to live. I was working overnights at a fast food place but it wasn’t nearly enough to live on my own. So my dad helped me get hired at his job, an afterschool program I’d been volunteering at for awhile. This would give me the extra I needed to get a place. I was positive and excited. I applied to a couple of apartments, and turned down by each one. So then, I tried to rent from private owners & that didn’t work either. The entire month of January went by with no hope, and then a friend came to my rescue. We settled everything and I moved out on my own, again, in February.
The whole while I was looking for places, I went back and forth from my dads to my stepmoms. I worked 5 overnights a week from 10pm-7am, took the 2 hour bus ride to one parents house, slept for 2 sometimes 3 hours, took the 1 & 1/2 hour bus ride to my 2nd job(5 days a week) worked from 2pm-6:30pm. I would leave my second job, go straight to the fast food overnight job & sleep in a booth at the back until my shift started.
In a matter of one month, I went from living in a dorm, a typical freshmen in college, to being on my own. I was paying bills, working 70+ hours a week with little to NO SLEEP and just trying to stay afloat at 18. These days I’m not upset at my parents, because I understand. And honestly throughout my entire experience they were there to help. But I don’t tell this story like it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, because in all honesty, it wasn’t.
As a child, I had been homeless. I’d been hungry. I’d slept in shelters. I’d had no clothes. I’d been where I couldn’t be taken care of but it was different because at that point I was the person in control of my life. I was the adult responsible for me. So, I felt like I was drowning in a pool of failure because I was almost homeless, almost hungry. I worked my ass off after leaving Spelman and I’m still not where I’d like to be but I’m still working.
I write this because I hope someone still in school reads this and appreciates where they are a little bit more. My situation wasn’t the worst in the world but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, even with me experiencing worse. So I say to anyone in college, cherish it. Don’t rush those moments because it’s real out here. Enjoy yourselves…