Choose Wisely

Shortsighted thinking often results in less than ideal situations. Not seeing beyond the present can have consequences that last a lifetime.

When I was in college, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I considered Radio and Television to prepare for a job as an on-air radio personality. I love music and thought that would be the coolest job. I had to choose a minor and one of the three available choices was history, which I was a big fan of.

I told my guidance counselor about my plans and she yelled at me. She scolded me for picking history. So, in my stubborn arrogance, I chose History as my major.

books-2606859_960_720That’s all good, except I never considered becoming an elementary or high school history teacher. All the ones I knew were “coach” first and teacher second. They treated the subject as secondary while I thought the importance of the subject was paramount to everything else. Every field of study has a history to it and in order to fully appreciate the current trends and future prospects, we have to know what came before.

So I completed my undergraduate studies with a Bachelor in Arts in the field of History. I had no idea what to do with my degree, so I continued on to graduate school where I focused on early Medieval history. I studied the British Isles and Ireland extensively. My Master’s thesis was on the Christianization of Ireland with a focus on the figure of St. Brigit who shared one two many similarities to an ancient Celtic goddess also named Brigit.

During my entire time in grad school, I never considered taking education classes to earn my teaching certificate. I studied history for the sake of knowledge with an eye to maybe teaching in college, but never in high school.

Now, over 16 years removed from my last class and thesis defense, I’m no where near where I thought I’d be. I joke that I have a master’s degree in history and I sell t-shirts. The truth of it is—that’s exactly what I am.

For the past 17 years, I’ve worked as a sales rep. for a screen-printing company, steadily growing my customer base and increasing my output to the point where I sell over $1,000,000 worth of t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, and other items annually.

doors-1767562_960_720I’m not sharing life altering historical knowledge with anyone, but I do enjoy my work. Our company has a laid back feel (I mean, I can wear t-shirts and shorts to work every day!) but we’re also highly professional and one of the best in the business, all while staying in rural Southern Illinois with customers all over the country.

There are times when I wonder what it would be like if I’d have made the decision to add education courses to my college career and earned a teaching certificate. I wonder what kind of an impact I could’ve had on kids learning to figure out what this world is all about. I don’t dwell on it too much. As I’ve grown as a fiction writer, I do feel these past 17 years have given me the foundation to sell my books to potential buyers and made me comfortable in that role.

I guess the moral of the story is this: when those critical decisions are to be made, think about the long-term impact. Don’t get caught up in what consequences it will have in the next couple of years, but think how it might effect you far down the line. Do you want regrets or satisfaction from your decision? I can tell you which one I’d rather have, and it doesn’t include regrets.

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4 thoughts on “Choose Wisely”

  1. Wow. This is a very similar path to my recent past, except I had some conception of what I was doing. I was in my fourth year working at McDonalds, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I could get government grants, and live on government loans. But, in order to do this, I had to choose an approved major (and one I knew I might not have to repay). So I chose to pursue a bachelors in secondary education. I, too, wanted to teach on a college level. As it is, I still haven’t even earned my associates, I’m ten grand in debt, and no where near a job in secondary education. On the other paw, I have received an excellent education in English, Literature, and Writing, which is awesome! I attribute much of my writing success to some great teachers. Sometimes I still hope to teach. I had a great English teacher in high school. she inspired me to try harder. Maybe that’s why I leaned toward secondary education.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent 8 years working at a Hardee’s restaurant while going through college. The flexible schedule allowed me to work full time and attend school full time. Like you, I couldn’t take it anymore and my wife was pregnant with our son. I wanted to be home nights and weekends so a friend of mine helped me get the job at the screenprinting company. I’ve been there since. I’ve tried to take a positive view and use the skills learned to sell my books.

      But for you my friend, go for your dream!

      Liked by 1 person

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