There it was. Though I knew the time was approaching, it was so surreal seeing my name on that sheet of paper. In that moment it really clicked that I was far from my beginning, the end was closer than I accounted for, but most importantly, I had survived everything in the middle…
I drug my tired body into school. Another night to fulfill the routine – one that had been exhausted for almost two years. That night my kit felt especially heavy or maybe I was just a bit more depleted than usual. The fact of the matter: I was tired…exhausted even. All of the time spent grinding, pressing, and sacrificing my life for the sake of education had taken its toll on my mind, body, and energy. I pushed through the crowd to clock-in, a few minutes late per usual, when a sheet of paper caught my eye. It was a list of upcoming graduates who needed to begin fulfilling their last few duties before the final clock-out. My name was on that list! As if by divine osmosis, I jolted with energy and rushed to find my friend, Alicia. “I’m graduating soon,” I declared to anyone who would listen. “My name is on the list!” The end was finally in sight.
If all goes to plan, I will clock out of cosmetology school for the final time on Tuesday, January 29, 2019! (A praise goes right there.) Though I am bursting at the seams with excitement, I knew that graduation was eminent if for no other reason than time is winding up. The goal all along has been to clock the state mandated 1,500 hours, and I have clocked over 1,400. If I’m very honest, I’m actually behind. If I wouldn’t have gotten off track, I would have graduated last month. I’ll come back to that. Nevertheless, seeing my name on that list awakened me to the fact that I am further along that I think, and I’ve almost made it to my destination.
More than the destination, I needed the journey.
That night while driving home, I allowed my mind to recapitulate some of the many steps that led me to the moment that I found myself relishing in. Moons ago as I entered my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to go to cosmetology school; however, my indecision led me away from that choice. Though I never stopped doing hair on a consistent basis, my dream of being a licensed stylist was pushed further and further to the back of my mind. Over the next decade, I found myself in the grind of working to pay the bills, and failing every time I tried my hand at college after my first degree. In the fall of 2016, I found myself stuck and discontent with what had become of my life. I was afraid to try anything new but too frustrated to remain in my rut. After a little nudging from a former friend, I began gathering information. After months of self pep talks and beat down sessions alike, I mustered up the courage to apply for school in January of 2017. Two months later I began what would easily become one of the most beautifully challenging journeys of my life.
I walked into Rudy & Kelly Academy, a Paul Mitchell Partner School, on March 27, 2017 with one goal in mind: FINISH! With three failed attempts at college under my belt, I NEEDED to finish. As mentioned in my blog “What Did I Say?,” this was what I thought would be my last chance at this school thing. Sitting in that classroom, I didn’t tell myself to make friends, be open-minded, or enjoy the journey. I only imagined the day that I would walk to the very time clock that I punched into for the first time and clock out for the final time. As the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into a year, I could only think of wanting school to be over with. I was exhausted, unmotivated, and quite frankly, I was over it! After working a full-time job during the day, working for my church, and enduring a five-hour class four nights each week, quitting seemed like a viable option except I couldn’t. At first I convinced myself that I hadn’t given it enough of a chance to quit. Later down the line, I reckoned that I was too far from the starting line to quit. What I didn’t realize was I was too close to the finish line to quit.
Driving down I-64 West that night, chatting with a friend on the phone, my rambling made me not only excited about my approaching graduation but aware of just how important my journey was. To fully understand this you must know just how much I didn’t believe I could make it this far. Repeated failure has a way of suppressing your expectations even when you find the courage to try again. In the back of my mind a quiet voice would sometimes tell me that at some point something wouldn’t work out. I pushed forward anyway. But y’all, the push to keep it moving has given me a strength that has outweighed all of my weaknesses. Going to school validated so many things in me. I’d like to share just what these last 20 months on this journey has taught me:
Transparently speaking, for years I felt inadequate because I didn’t attend a four-year college and didn’t have a traditional degree. This journey through cosmetology school helped me embrace that everyone’s journey is unique to his/her purpose, and I truly excelled when I aligned with my God-given purpose and not just my self-contrived desires. I wasn’t any less than because I don’t have a Bachelor’s or a Master’s. I have every right to be just as proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished.
If you would have asked me almost two years ago if I imagined being where I am and knowing what I now know, I would have denied it. I have known for quite some time where I want to end up (because I’m not there yet), but I haven’t always been sure how to get there. Some days I still question my next step. What I do know is I found the courage to make step number one with the final step in mind, and I’ve gained so much more than I could have asked for in the steps along the way.
Whether running down the clock in cosmetology school, punching the clock at my 8-4, trying to walk out my purpose on the earth, or going through a series of transitions, I am learning that most times what is most important is NOT the end all be all. If the journey is filled with suffering, how I suffer matters. I will need to rely on God, try not to complain, and pray for strength. If the journey is filled with blessings, it is humility that matters. I’ll need to remember that every good and perfect gift comes from above, seek to never become arrogant, and in everything to be thankful. On this journey from March 27, 2017 to January 29, 2019, I haven’t always had the best attitude and I even sometimes spoke ill of the blessing that God gave me, but thank God for grace and getting hemmed up in the corner by the Holy Spirit. Looking back from what is almost the finish line, I can see that the date on the calendar isn’t the only thing that changed…I did.
Reaching my destination will mean the world to me, but getting there has changed my world for me. It was all about the journey.
I hope this helps.