These shoes aren't for me and this isn't the job for me...
It was a morning like any other morning. I had been up the night before until 11 pm, doing homework, so when the alarm went off at 5...it was too early. I half heartedly put on makeup and woke the kids, to get them dressed for school. They tried to doze off in the back, on the way to the sitter. It was cool that morning so they were nice and toasty strapped in with their little jackets and hats.
After dropping them off, I pulled into my normal parking spot, out in the back forty of the factory’s parking lot. I was always cutting it close, on time, so the good spots were well gone from the shift change.
I had made the walk in a 1,000 times. I’d done factory work for almost 10 years, but the feeling never eased. It was a good job. I appreciated the job, the money. Who else, without a college degree, could make decent money like I was in the area? Not many. Still yet, I always yearned for something more.
After walking about a mile to get to the floor of the plant, I gathered my toolbox at the back and hurried towards my machine. As I climbed down the metal stairs, it hit me... like it did everyday- the resentment washed in. I hadn’t even started my shift and I was angry. The worst part of it was, I didn't have anyone to be angry at, but myself.
It was my fault I was in the situation I was in. The decision I had made had led me up to that point, and it was all on me. I had obligations though- I couldn’t quit or get a lesser paying job. I felt trapped and very helpless. Here I was working full-time +, going to school, being a single parent... and still holding up the same quality of work as everyone else. It wasn't fair. I was angry and frustrated.
I knew I couldn't change my situation either, until I had my degree....
No. I wasn't going to accept it. I was going to take a hold of my life and change it! It didn't matter that I couldn't fathem giving anymore energy to anything else. I didn't care. I was going to be happier. I was going to get a different job BEFORE I graduated.
Lifting 25-100lbs daily. Wearing a hairnet, radio, earplugs. No jewelry or even clear finger nail polish. Lugging around my toolbox. Getting dirty, every day. You could literally eat off my floor, after I'd cleaned it (not that we did or would want anyone to).... and those steel toed shoes.
The factory gave us a voucher every year, to buy new safety shoes. It was about $50, but any nice pair of shoes costs $100+. The shoes wore out about every year- I can't fully explain what concrete does to your feet, when you're standing on it all day. I would get home and my feet would be on fire though. No one to rub them and no money to go get massages. I was broke.
My mission. I was issued my voucher and I found the ugliest pair of shoes alive. Oh man they were hideous. Uncomfortable. Eh. Just imagine rolling up your pant legs halfway to your knees and walking around with the bad boys pictured above, all day. I had to do that every Wednesday when I would clean, otherwise you ended up with some major stains on the bottom of your pant legs (again, broke). I didn't care.
I told myself,
"Alright Owens, every time you look down at these ugly, uncomfortable shoes, you're going to know full and well that these aren't the shoes you really wanted and this isn't the job you were meant to do. So find the energy, get out there, and get another one. You are the only one who can change your situation and how happy you are. The ONLY one".
It really turned into a positive affirmation board, that was constantly in my face:
You will succeed. You will improve your life and your family's life. You will achieve. You will preserver.
Within a year, I had my new job. I remember that day so vividly. I was sitting in the car (parked), the kids were in the back and I told them to quiet down- I was reading an important email. I think I reread it 3 times. It was my offer letter. I immediately started to tear up. The kids were uber worried- I don't think they thought I could do that. I told them that Mommy got a different job and that I would never have to work weekends again. 2 days later, I was almost giggling when I walked into the HR office. They couldn't believe I was actually putting my notice in and where I got hired. I can't tell you how many people would quit the factory and be back within a year, desparetly wanting their job back. Not me.
Please don't get me wrong, I have plenty of friends that still work in a factory- my Mother does. There's NOTHING wrong with it. I just knew it wasn't for me and I knew I DEFINTELY couldn't live a sustainable life, trying to raise a family on my own. I knew I wanted to be married again, but I didn't want to get married for the sake of being married. I wanted to find the person for me.
Why am I sharing this? I want to inspire. I want to give hope.
Recently, I've needed to hear this part of my story again (so thank you everyone that pushed me to tell it). So I ask you this,
"What could you achieve, if you knew you couldn't fail?"
I knew failure wasn't an option. I knew I was very unhappy at my job. So I changed my situation. I got my degree. It took me 6 years and count less hours of reading while I took my breaks. You can do it too. There is hope and it's only as far away, as you're willing to reach for it.
So, what in your life are your current shoes holding you back from? Only you can take the first step.
Check out me throwing away my shoes- the video here!