When I was around 15 years old my mom made a deal with me, she would pay for my career, any career, if I would finish high school in the best high school there was; at the time this was a high school specializing in physics and mathematics, 2 subjects in which I truly suck at but, I took the deal, my mom was still a prolific civil engineer, researcher with a masters in hydraulics and a well respected profesor at her alma mater so although we were never “rich” we would get by, high mid class perhaps.
Finishing high school took me longer than expected and it meant to switch from the high school my mom wanted to the one I wanted so by then my mom had retired and the family income (depending solely on her since my sisters and I were still young and none of our parents were present) was considerably lower than it used to be so my mom told me:
“You have 2 options, either you start working to pay for your career if you want to continue studying or you start working to support yourself”
Not the options I was expecting to hear, specially after 21 years filled with a comfortable life where she provided everything, I was some sort of a spoiled brat if you will…
I decided I wanted to continue my education, Mexico has 3 major free education universities and only one of those universities has the career I wanted but I failed the test to get in by 2 points, I felt crushed but at the same time it did not feel like such a big deal for me, I wasn’t really grasping the real situation I was in but I also didn’t want to lose more time to resume my education since I had spend 4 extra years in high school alone so I began looking for private options until I found one that suited me.
After I had selected the school I wanted to attend and researched the cost of the tuitions I had to start looking for a job that would allow me to pay for it plus the materials I was going to need (graphic design is one of the most expensive careers) but I had no experience in any area, my mom was still giving me some money but only enough so I could go out to find a job, as I said I wasn’t really all that worried yet so I used to spend those days hanging out with my then girlfriend and talking to my friends.
I spend almost two months like this pretty much doing nothing, wasting my time and my mom’s money until one day I said: “ok, I’ll try to go to one interview today”, mostly because my mom would always ask me how my day had been and I was tired of lying about inexistent jobs that were not good enough.
I remembered discussing the matter with an old friend from my first high school and I clearly remembered how she told me: “you should go to a call center, they pay good money and they only require you to have a good level of conversational English and you’re very good at it anyways, there’s one downtown”, true, I was very good at writing and understanding English but I had never before in my life had a fluid conversation with anybody, mostly because I had nobody to practice with, so I did not take her advice so seriously.
One day I decided to actually show for an interview, the job seemed too good to be true to begin with but I decided to give it a try anyway, it was a scam, I knew it the second I set a foot inside the “office”, the place had a waiting room with individual chairs, a flat screen hanging on the wall with a tiny DVD player attached in the middle of it all, and all around three maybe four cubicles with brand new furniture, no phones, no computers; once I got called into one of the cubicles a woman began explaining everything about the job but I don’t really remember a thing since I was busy examining the surroundings: book shelves with fake binders in them and I’m not talking about a full book shelve, only two or three “binders”, no stationary, enough to say that when the woman had to get out of the cubicle to pick up some papers I got out of there.
I ended up walking around downtown just thinking if all the jobs that seemed well paid would end up being a scam and if it might be more difficult than I thought to find a job when I turned to my left and saw a poster that said: “We are hiring, tech support and customer service representatives” so I automatically thought of my friend who had told me about this call center (I had no idea what they were or what they did but it sounded like a good job), I disregarded it, I kept walking to the corner of the street and then it hit me just like a lightning, the thought of never doing anything with my life and becoming a useless parasite, not that my mom would ever allow that but still, the thought of seeing myself as an individual not as my mother’s son, but as a man, wasting my life; I went back on my steps and got inside the building.
I filled in all the forms, I passed all the tests, even a simulated call where I had to explain an elderly person how to send a text message from his cellphone which he had only ever used for calls, I got congratulated for my highly fluid English and I even got lucky enough to be reasigned to a contract that paid the double that the one I was initially hired for, everything turned out just fine.
Whenever I think back or whenever a person asks me about a life changing moment I always go back to that day, it wasn’t a special day, I wasn’t really looking to get any job necessarily but it was the day I decided I was going to do something for myself, the day I decided I didn’t want to be a failure or a burden, I didn’t want to live a life full of regrets, of “what ifs”, of sitting around and wonder.
It was the day I finally took a conscious, rational and mature decision by and for myself and in my mind and heart it will forever by the day my adult life really started.
Everything was new, everything was scary, I felt inadequate, ignorant, vulnerable but I felt for the first time ever that all that didn’t matter, that it was ok for me to be scared to not know to allow myself to learn without being judged without judging, it was a humbling experience that I will always cherish.