They Said I Should Be A Trash Truck Driver

When I was a little girl I had a very solid career path laid out for myself. I just knew I would be a nurse. Or a teacher. Or maybe teach about nursing. But definitely be a librarian or work in a book store or probably an office supply store. But then I would have to be a writer or a dolphin protector or write about the dolphins and then after that I would an astrophysicist/musician.

As I grew up and started to see where my actual gifts and talent I seemed to rest less on creating re-location settlements on the moon or writing for The Nature Conservancy to earning the love of young children. I babysat a lot, volunteered at church in the nursery and VBS, and joined FTA and earned a student teaching assignment my senior year of high school. Despite my typical average to above average grades my dad pushed me to join the military to pay for school. That plan was not anywhere on my radar and I was confident I could win some scholarships to at least partially pay for school.

And then I took the ACT. I needed a 25 to get into the school of my choice. But I only got a 19. So I took it again. And only got a 19. I was devastated.

The ACT in all of its wisdom to move high school students towards institutions of higher learning make suggestions of possible careers based on your ACT score. One of my suggestions was to become a trash truck driver. I am sure this is a very noble profession and attracts incredibly hard working individuals. However, when you think you are college bound through scholarships and see no reason for anything stopping you from becoming a professional in several different  fields it is a slight blow to the psyche to hear you can aspire to be a trash truck driver.

But the real tragedy was I believed what the ACT said about me based on my test score. A printout that had a few points of data on me suddenly changed the trajectory of my life. My self esteem crashed. Everything I thought I knew about myself disappeared. I no longer had confidence in my abilities. I convinced myself that my supporting circles had been spouting lies about me to distract me from the reality that I was a nothing. I had no talents. I wasn’t meant for anything good. I was sub par and mediocre.

You may notice that I do not have the privilege of driving a trash truck today. At some point a few teachers, mentors, friends, and family members one by one pointed me towards a brighter future. They encouraged me not to give up on my dreams. They taught me the truth about education and about myself. The re-occurring theme was “if there is a will there is a way.”There was also the theme that if I was meant to be a trash truck driver than I was to be the best trash truck driver, the most creative trash truck driver, the most responsible trash truck driver, the hardest working trash truck driver, and the most positive trash truck driver.

There is a young person in your life that needs to hear these things as well from you. They need to know the value of hard work. Of doing their very best in whatever situation they are in. To not doubt who they are and to never give up on their dreams.

I would love to hear who this person was in your life. Who helped you get to where you are today? Who made it hard for you to give up?


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