Another Short Story Called Give Up
I heard it a lot when I was a child. There were adults all around me, talking about broken dreams and how life was so different than what it should have been. I couldn't understand why those adults just couldn't be content with what they had already. They could do so much more than what I could do, and they had so much more than what I thought I had.
Years go by, as they do, and now I have found myself all grown up. It happened so suddenly that I barely knew what I was looking at when I peered into the mirror this morning. But there I stood, staring back at myself. My eyes were beginning to crease with age, my skin was marked with the scars of puberty, and my hair was coarse. I was different from what I remembered I was.
A cry startled me back to reality. My two year old was up and awake, waiting for someone to care for him. With a sigh and another quick glance into the mirror, I turned to leave the bathroom. But the crying stopped as my husband beat me to our son. I tightened the belt around my bathrobe and peaked into my son's room. My husband was holding and rocking the boy, smiling and talking with him. Quickly, I wandered out into the kitchen and grabbed a mug to pour some coffee.
Dishes littered the sink, waiting until someone decided to wash them. The stove was at least ten years old and the linoleum was starting to crack and peel. This house that was always cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and falling apart was a far cry from the house that I had always dreamed of.
"Good morning," my husband muttered, carrying our son to his high chair. "I have a job interview tomorrow, so you need to stay home."
"Can't. You know I have a double tomorrow. Bring him to your mother's house."
My husband sighed. I had been waiting for him to find a job. It had been two months since he quit his last job. He argued with his manager over some new policy and ended up walking out. Since then, it's been food stamps and my dead-end job supporting us. 'This was not how it was suppose to be,' I thought bitterly.
"Then I'll have to drive you to work tomorrow earlier."
"How early? Your mother lives a half an hour away."
My husband paused to think. "Seven."
"Seven!? In the morning!? I don't have to work until ten!"
"My job interview is at eight! And I need the car to get back from it, so you can't drive me. You can find something to do until then."
I put down my coffee angrily on the counter and bit my lip. I had been thinking that he's been up to something recently and haven't trusted him with the car since he got that speeding ticket three weeks ago. I muttered some reply and left the room to get ready for work.
In an hour, I was leaving the house and driving my worthless hunk of junk to work. At a stop light, I looked out my window. There was a woman about the same age as me walking down the street, wearing a sharp business skirt and jewelry that looked expensive. Her smile caused a familiar sensation to well up inside of me.
As a little girl, I wanted to be model. Later on in life, I realized that I was never going to be pretty enough for that. My friends and family all told me how worthless that dream was and how only a small fraction of models become famous. They told me to give up and choose a different path. I decided to be a singer. I would sing day in and day out, everywhere I went. I joined my school's chorus and tried hard to get the solos, but was never able to. I was told to give up by friends.
So I changed my dream to a more practical one; a nurse. They made good money and were respected for helping those in need. They had good schooling, as well. I felt that I could really do something with that.
I had to give that up, too.
I became pregnant in the last three months of high school. I refused to have an abortion and just went out to get a job. Within a year, I was married to my highschool sweetheart, raising my young child, and I had moved in with him. I thought that since he was older than I and already out in the working world, life would be easy. But it wasn't. My husband was worthless, changed jobs frequently, and left little to help support his family. The only positive thing I could say about him was that he loved me and loved our son.
Work passed by the same as usual. I cashed out the customers, stocked the shelves, mopped the floor, and listened to my manager tell me time and time again to smile. Driving home, I kept my eyes on the road, fearing that I may see those that are living the life that I felt entitled to live.
But, as I was only five minutes from my house, I began to think. I thought of all my dreams that I gave up on. I thought of the reasons. All of them came from a lack of resolve and too much attention given to peers. Sure, I would have been a horrible singer and I'm not one for modeling, but what about nursing? I gave up because of my son. I gave up because I thought that I could just make do.
How many years of school is needed for nursing? What courses do you need to take? Can I learn from the local college?
I made an impulsive decision. Yes, five minutes from home, I made an impulsive decision about my life. Some people say that major life choices shouldn't be impulsive. They should be well thought out and planned. Life changes need to be discussed, and the more impulsive a decision is, the worst of a direction you will go in. But I need a solution. I need to be happy. I need my son to be happy. As impulsive as it is, I will look into it.
My choice was simple. I decided to take the first step towards a dream that I gave up on. I decided that while waiting for work to start tomorrow, I will walk to the local college. I will talk with the people there to see what I need to do. I will see if I can get financial help. There is no harm in taking the first step towards a path that will make me happier and the first step on a path to make my son's life better.
Maybe I won't be able to do anything. Maybe I can't afford school. Maybe I won't be able to go to class. Maybe it will be too hard for me. Maybe my husband won't support me. But maybe I can do it. Maybe it will be the best thing I can do with my life. Maybe I am just afraid of a failure that I don't know is certain. I will start by not listening to those people who say "just give up". This dream isn't impractical. There is no reason to give up and there is no reason to rush.
I will choose a different path from what I have been following.
"Give up. Just give up. You can't do it."
I will change my life starting right now.
"It will never work. Just give up. You will still be in debt. Just give up."
I will stop listening to everyone around me. I know what I am doing. I know the risk.
"Just give up, give up, give up!"
I will never give up.