The ever changing face of self-discovery. pt. 1

As soon as I started home economics class in 5th grade, I knew I wanted to be a chef.  I even went to a vocational high school for Culinary Arts. I enjoyed most of the time there learning how to become a chef. It was very different from other high schools in that half of my day was spent in a kitchen or bakery or the on-campus restaurant(nothing spectacular) we had. As the years progressed I narrowed down exactly what kind of chef I wanted to be, a pastry chef.

There were 3 sections of the culinary arts department in this school, the Restaurant(front end), the Back kitchen, and the Bakery. I wasn’t crazy about the back kitchen, because you always ended up having to wash a TON of dishes and containers and various tools. The front end was pretty fun, but I didn’t like being a waiter, I wanted to cook. I learned how to be a pretty awesome breakfast cook with my time spent in there. I still feel pretty at-home in front of a griddle/grill. Everyone loved being in the bakery though, for this was a fully-functioning bakery open to the public. We made looooots of goodies and sold them very very cheaply(25 cents for a cookie as big as your hand), but the quality of the food wasn’t really cheap at all, aside from the occasional mess-ups you get as a result  of it being a place of learning too. The teachers had something to do with it, but you often got to slack off a lot in the bakery, and I think that’s another reason a lot of people liked it.

Every 2-3 months for the first 3 years we would rotate between the 3 “stations”, and in our senior year we would get to pick which one we wanted to be in all year long. Well, we would have if an overwhelming amount of people hadn’t chose to be in the bakery. They didn’t take into consideration that some of us genuinely wanted to be in there to learn how to do the things you do in a bakery, or take us seriously enough to consider it. I admit I was very much the class clown in high school, along with my best friend at the time. We would cause mischief all over the school, mostly in the culinary arts department, it was all in good fun though. They probably saw this as an opportunity to split us up, but unfortunately I got the short end of the stick and my friend got to go to the bakery while I was sent to the front end. This really wasn’t too bad as I had mentioned previously that I enjoyed doing the grill cooking, just not the waiting. I didn’t really like many of the people who were in the bakery anyway, so it kind of worked out.

That year was a little strange, but I finished high school and ended up moving to Florida with my family the following September.

It was time for college now, and within weeks of moving I started my first classes at the Art institute of Tampa, for video game design. Wait, what? What happened to cooking you ask? I really enjoy cooking, maybe one day i’ll even open up my own restaurant or something, but at that time that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go with my life. I changed a lot over the summer. I was not the person I was in high school, and my change of career choice reflected that. I was done trying to fit in to the crowd, I wanted to be my own person and persue the things I truly enjoyed. I embraced my inner geek and went full speed ahead.

Fast forward 6 months.

8 hour days split up into two 4 hour classes was a bit more than I could handle. It would probably still burn me out. The Art Institute was a great school, and while new, they were a nationwide college that had a set curriculum that worked for them, and weren’t starting fresh like some schools, but i’ll get to that in a little bit. In march of 2005, one of the classes I was taking was College Algebra, the other was some abstract design class which I had failed the first time, but I was doing much better this time around, i’m pretty sure it was the teacher. I was really struggling with the algebra class though, and even though I had one of my favorite teachers at the school teaching the class, I just gave up. Math is not my friend. I try, and try, and try, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to grasp the more advanced types of math. In the past I was able to skate by with a C or B if I was lucky, but 4 hour sittings of College Algebra just got to be way more than I could handle, and being a dumb, impatient, 18 year old and not fully thinking about my actions, I started to skip school. Not just the algebra class, the design class too. I was so frustrated with it that I just didn’t even want to be there. Still being relatively new to the area, I wanted to see what tampa bay was all about, so I spent the time skipping classes exploring the city of tampa and the greater tampa bay area. I’m pretty famliar with this whole area now, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss, but it shouldn’t have come at the expense of my education. I’d probably be in a different place than I am now if I had stuck with it, and I really wish I had, because the next school I ended up going to two years later wasn’t half the school the art institute was.

After my fallout from the art institute, I went on some job interviews to try and get a full time job since I wasn’t going to school. I responded to an ad about getting to play video games while you work, so I drove 30 minutes to Brandon to find this little office in the back of a building, where people were playing games on a lone PS2. I’m not sure what their deal really was, but I ended up getting the job, which was soliciting ripoff brand perfumes and colognes to people going in and out of shopping centers. That lasted all of about a week. It was really shady and I didn’t want any part of it, plus the hours were at a time where it would take me an hour and a half both ways to get to and from work, so It just didn’t work out at all.

After that I basically was wasting away in my room playing video games all day, a pretty sad time in my life. I didn’t have any friends down here, or a job, or go to school. I was hanging onto threads of my old life, even though I was the one who suggested we move to Florida. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to get settled down here. I still had friends online, so I relied on them to keep a fragmented “social life” until I had one in real life. Eventually I got out of that rut after much arguing with my parents about the state of my life, and six months later I was able to get a job at a local supermarket.

I had previously worked in the bakery department of a supermarket in high school, so I figured I could do the same thing here since I had the experience and was a little older, so I could use all the equipment and get full time hours. Well, I got a job there, with full time hours, as a cart pusher. They told me it would be an interim job until something in the bakery opened up, which they expected it to within weeks. Six months later i’m still pushing carts and not happy at all. I felt like I was wasting my life there, and I was really itching to go back to school. So I quit the job and within a couple weeks started at Keiser College. You’d think after having gone to college once, I would do a bit of research on what my choices of colleges are. Nah, I knew was I was doing, I was 19 after all. When you’re that age you are a conquerer of worlds, a king among men! I didn’t really think that, but I knew what I was doing was right.

Boy was I wrong.

To be continued…


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