I had always heard as a teenager that the hardest years for a woman were in her early twenties. Well, they were right. I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be chef. I loved to cook for friends and family, and I was always underfoot in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother. When it came time to decide what I wanted to do after graduation, it was an easy choice, culinary school. Off I moved to Austin with three of my friends and a car full of my favorite things.
My roommate was lucky enough to not have to work when we moved; her parents happily paid her rent. I worked and paid the majority of my bills while going to school, and my parents helped me when I needed it. After, about three months and of going to more parties with my roomie than days I spent in school I realized that I wasn’t even close to ready for the responsibilities that I had. Without even thinking about it I packed all of my things into my car, and moved back home to Dallas.
I had worked in the restaurant business since I could get a job at 16, so going back to my old job at steakhouse was easy and sensible for me until I figured out what I wanted to do. I was hosting on this one particular day in June of 2009. It was after the lunch rush, and it was hot out. There were wasn’t a soul in the place but employees. So I decided to clean the windows on the door in the lobby.
As I’m doing this, I’m praying, and I was praying hard. I was asking God what I was going to do with my life. What path should I take? Do I give myself some time and then go back to school? Did I make a mistake? I remember looking to the right and seeing a “Drop Your Card” box. Rarely did anyone drop a card in it, for fear of mass emails, and bothersome flyers in the mail. Yet, I decided to open it, and there was only one card inside.
One card, that’s it. I picked it up, and said to myself, “This is a sign isn’t it? This is what you want me to do?” I put the card in pocket and finished my shift. When I sat down in my car, I felt the card poke me. I took it out and wedged it on my dash, next to the picture of my little brother, so I could just stare it. United States Marine Corps, it was a recruiter’s card.
I drove around for a few days with the card right where I had left it. Just looking at it, and tossing the idea around in my head. On a day when I was working an extremely busy double I made the decision to go to the recruiter’s office to at least talk to him. As soon as my break came around I was in the car and on the way before I could lose my nerve.
I walked into the office, and there sat the Staff Sergeant, whose card that I had found. He looked at me, smiled, and said “Are you lost?” Like I somehow didn’t belong there, and there I stood frozen. I somehow managed to spit out no, and that I had wanted to join. So we sat down and talked for a while, until he had me take a practice test. I was honestly hooked from that moment on, and four months later I left for boot camp to join the Marine Corps Reserves.
Boot camp is just about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You lose all contact from the outside world, but letters that came in the mail. Those letters became vital to my survival, as did Sundays. Sunday’s we had four hours of “free time.” You could use those four hours to go to church, or you could stay at the barracks and find something productive to do.
I always chose to go to church, because you could always see the graduating class for that week sitting front and center. Being in His house and seeing them each week, gave me the strength I needed to get through it all. And it did, the day I became a Marine was the most rewarding day of my life.
Fast forward to a few years down the road. Being in the reserves meant that I got to come back home and only reported one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. So I was kind of back to square one. I should have gone back to school, but I decided to fall back into the restaurant industry. Serving and bartending were fun and to be completely honest, I loved it. The money was great, the people were fun, and I could (for the most part) make my own schedule.
This routine kept up for five years, and with that came the drinking and being out into all of hours of the night. So did the depression, and mood swings. I hate to say how many times I scared my family with my lifestyle but it was more than any one person should put anyone, much less your entire family through. I was 23, about to be 24 and still clueless as to what I was doing with my life.
There I am at work and praying, just like the first time, for just something that would enlighten me. To at least give me an idea to the direction I needed to go. I knew that church was where I needed to be, but I was so ashamed of how I had lived my life I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I never lost my relationship with Christ though.
A few days later I received a text message from a friend that his girlfriend’s aviation company was hiring for a client services position. I literally jumped up and down in the walk in cooler. Heck yeah I wanted the position, being a bartender taught me customer relationships, and my job in the Marine Corps was in aviation.
I went for an interview and heard back the next day that I had the job. Within four months I was promoted to work in accounting due to my attention to detail, and how quickly I caught on to the process flow of our company. I’m now getting ready to start night classes and work towards getting a degree in finance.
God answered all of my prayers and carried me through the hard times. He truly did have a plan for me along, and I’ve never been happier. I have supportive roommates, wonderful co-workers, and a job I’m grateful for every day. My life is finally on a path with goals I want to work towards, and I am thankful for every struggle and every blessing He has put me through.
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