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Finding Balance: Career / College
Before you dive in to all of this babble, let me just say that the point of this post is to hear other peoples stories. Maybe get feedback, advice, or simply words of encouragement because I'm finding life to be a bit difficult right now. And I feel a little lost.

We all make decisions in life. They can be good, bad, difficult or easy. I made a decision after I graduated from high school in 2009 that has really impacted my life.

Growing up I loved art and design and you could always find me sketching, building, thinking. I didn't have very many friends growing up. I was gay, black, an art nerd, and a weirdo. But I was content with that. I kept to myself in my own world of art.
I grew up knowing I wanted to do something in life that was creative. I wanted to make an impact in the world, whether it be through fashion design, interior design, architecture, etc.

June 2009, I graduated from high school and started community college (summer semester) right away. My parents and I had an agreement that I would live at their home for free, work part time, they would pay for me to go to school full time in pursuit of an associates degree in design. I show them that I can be serious about school and graduate then they would pay for me to transfer credits to a school of my choice to finish off my last 2 years to get my bachelors degree. I longed for getting out into the world and making it on my own. I'll be honest and say that I was a stubborn teen. I wanted what I wanted at the time. And I didn't realize how good I had it at my parents.

October 2009, I decided I didn't want to be bound to anymore of my parents rules and curfews. I moved out, quit the community college, and moved into a nice apartment with a few randos I met on facebook and became friends with. In January 2010, I decided I'd try my hand at getting into a private art/design college I had heard about. After I was accepted into the Interdisciplinary and Fashion Studies program, I realized that I was not going to be able to afford the school. For the rest of 2010 into 2011 I became this partier; went out to gay bars night after night. I had my fun. And quickly grew tire of "the gay scene"

Mid 2011, I was still working part time in retail. I decided I had had enough of this careless party lifestyle. I was 21 and it was time to start acting like a 21 year old. Held a couple of internships and networked the hell out of the small "fashion scene" Minneapolis had. I had worked with some really cool and talented people, participated in some really cool projects. Through all of it I came to realize that fashion was where I found comfort. I learned that Target Corporation had an in-house design firm full of fashion designers, textile designers, fit engineers. I wanted in. I finally had something I could work towards. So at the end of 2011 I registered to get back into school. Started in spring 2012 at a community college downtown. They didn't have a fashion program but they did have graphic design. So I started pursuing that. I started out part time so I continue working part time to get by, continued networking, interning. Towards the end of 2012, finally, worked up enough courage to apply to Target Headquarters. My goal was to start getting that "Professional Experience" while finishing my undergrad so that by the time I get my bachelors, I'll have had 3 or 4 years of experience and a degree to get the job I dream of. After 3 attempts, I finally got a call from an HR recruiter. 4 interviews later, I received a full time offer from them for an entry level position in Product Design and Development department on a design team. Great pay, benefits, etc. I had did it. This was the start of my career.

Started in january 2013, I also was still in school trucking away trying to get that Associates degree in graphic design.

Today, I am still with the company and still a part time student. However, today is one of those days where I am having flashbacks to 2009. I'm having regrets but trying to block them out. Had I made the decision to stick with college in 2009, not moved out of my parents house, I could possibly be in New York right now, working in the heart of the fashion industry in an Art Director role at Conde Nast Publications or something big like that. A part of me feels like I've wasted the last 5 years of my life figuring my shit out that I could have had a degree by now. The other part of me feels like I am in a good place right now. I have a great job, I live in a nice place on my own, I'm going to school, and working towards my dream.

Lately, I've been getting so antsy and impatient with the pace that things are going. My goal is to have my bachelors degree by 2017. This means I would have to become a Full Time student. But I need my job to sustain myself. And I've worked so hard to get in that I can't give it up. Is there anyone out there who has had to work full time to make ends meet but also be a full time student? How did you do it? Lots of coffee? I think I am going to start full time in January 2015. I need to get done with college. and I can't speed things up if I continue to do this part time thing.
Yes I did the work and higher education thing together.

Time is relative, time is also a great leveler of experience, and many other things.

Right now 2017 is far, far away - to you.... To me 2017 is just a couple three months down the road. The older we get the faster time moves. Enjoy the slow time stream while it lasts.

Regrets - get used to it. The upside to this is most people regret the stuff they didn't do... which is perhaps easier to swallow than regretting things we did do. My advice for regret is not to much to ignore it, but to embrace it, learn from it and apply whatever lesson you took away from it in future experiences.

There is no magic pill or drug that allows one to draw credit from tomorrow. I have tried many, coffee, pep-pills... methamphetamine (crystal meth).... While I got short term 'energy' the long term was a bit of a bitch when it came to paying back that debt.

All of us only get 24 hours to the day. We need to do a lot of things in those 24 hours to remain sane, healthy and able. Such as sleep, such as eat, such as find time to relax, such as carve out a slice of the money pie.

Forget short cuts and reaching those goals earlier than humanly possible. You can't do that. Its not a problem of will, its a simple problem of physics - time, space, energy, etc.

One thing which might make this all easier is to take your main goal and divide it up the time from here to there with mini-goals to meet. Surely there are steps in this process you need to accomplish before you attain the papers. Place your focus on those, celebrate when you hit those small goals and can scratch them off your 'to do' list as done.

Your 'goal' of 2017 is not realistic... So what is the most time it would take? Are we looking at 2025? 2020? 2019???

I would think that 2019 is a reasonable goal, still allows you time to think... I assume doubling the two years from 2015 to 2017, which means 2019...

That is only 5 years in future, and you will be 27.

The down side is that you are taking more time, and are not where most folk of that age is.... The upside is that you have gotten the party out of your system, have actually lived life, got some serious experiences as an adult in the modern adult world, thus are not as naive as those who get their degree at age 24 to discover that what they wanted to be at age 17 isn't exactly what they want to be for the rest of their life.

This last I know rather well.... I got a D.min and other papers which I never actually used.... Apparently construction workers don't need to be ministers. I discovered later in life that I actually like if not love building stuff...

You have an edge here. I suspect that there are lot of people out there who set their sights on a certain goal when they were just too young, inexperienced to know what it was where they really liked to be - so now are banging away at a job they hate because their education limited them to this one thing and they feel trapped by life to remain there - forever - pushing that rock up the hill for all of time... maybe whilst some birds are eating out their liver just for extra fun.

The other aspect here is it appears you found a complimentary job that matches your career and educational goals.

Can you apply this work experience as part of your credits/units whatever its called now days to help flush out your education and reach that goal sooner? Perhaps a talk with your guidance counselor at your school will reveal stuff for you that you can apply to your career and educational goals?

Conversely, does your current educational goals and plans and standing benefit your job? IDK perhaps you need to talk to human resources or whatever the corporation's employment development department is called.

I know a lot of companies actually pay for their employees to go to school to learn stuff that applies to the job. Some companies even pay the employee to be a student. I have no idea how this works out for you because that field has never been on my radar. I do know trade skills (plumbing, A/C, electrical, carpentry, even dry-wall plastering) often come with intern-ships, apprenticeships and other mixes where work and education go hand in hand and the individual both works and learns at the same time.

There may be more options for you than you know (or I know). I would start at your school with the guidance counselor, and with the employee development/human resources department at your job.
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[SIZE=4]I told you I had the body of a 25 year old....

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I will probably share my story another time since it's getting late here, but compared to your situation, one objective person may see me and say that I am so FAR behind where you are at in your career path (since it involves me finishing up 2 degrees now in a field I no longer have any interest in and planning to switch and pursue something completely different as soon as I am finished), but anyways I'd like to just post a short reply to this.

I've learned that in life (although I am only one year older), where you are right now is EXACTLY where you are meant to be, whether it be the people you meet, your friends, relationships, how you got to this point in life, what route you've taken to get there, etc.

Everything happens for a reason, and one of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs is "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

It seems that you already have set in your mind what you want to achieve in life, your dream job and desire, never let go of that! All your experiences you have had building up to where you are now are important, there is a reason, even if you can't see it today, why you have taken the route you have taken to get where you are, so just appreciate that fact.

I am a firm believer that everyone has their own story and path in life that is unique to them, and the important thing is to keep believing in that dream and trusting in it, never give up! Smile
Thank you for your response. I really did like it. Let's talk more!

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