It still doesn’t seem real. I’ve gotten written confirmation. I even called up and asked them to tell me so I knew it was true. I guess after 1 year 7 months and 28 days of fighting for it…killing myself for it. I finally did it.
Today I did the impossible. I’m still in my 20’s. I went to a university and got a 4 year degree. And as of today, I am completely 100% debt free. I finally paid off my last student loan.
How did I do it?
Well, before I get to that, I have to take you back before I can take you forward.
Last time we spoke, life hit me hard. I got a severe infection in my leg that flat-out dropped me and I had to go to the hospital. The bill from it brought me down big time. In my last post I mentioned how all you can do when life knocks you down is roll with the punches and keep moving forward. I won’t lie, it was very hard to do.
I was so close to paying of my student loans and then another debt was piled on top of them.
I was pretty down, but even though I was. Somehow, I didn’t give up.
When someone says never give up. It’s almost cliché nowadays. Saying those words is easy. Enacting them is a different story altogether. My journey up till that point had been hard. I know that the majority of people wouldn’t have lasted going through what I did. From working 70 hour work weeks to working two to three days and then having weeks off at a time, giving 80-90% of every paycheck to pay off my student loans so that I could be free.
Not giving up is hard, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it on many occasions. So what kept me going?
The only way I can answer that is by asking you a few questions.
Picture your dream. Not the dream with the limits the world has set for you. I’m talking about the dream deep down that you think is impossible.
Now ask yourself this:
How bad do you want it? What will you give to make it happen? What will you sacrifice?
I didn’t just want this to happen. I needed it to happen. If I gave up I would have fell into a pit of despair that I wouldn’t have been able to climb out of. I needed my life to be my own again.
I gave it all to make it happen. While my friends were making families, I was working towards my dream. While they were going out to bars, concerts, and traveling, I was working towards my dream.
I sacrificed any form of a social life. I sacrificed my health (when you work long hours doing construction your body ages faster than you do and a steady diet of gas station and fast food doesn’t help). I sacrificed a part of myself to make this happen.
But here is the thing, by not giving up, you can accomplish much more than you ever thought was possible. Sometimes the dream seems so far off that it’s just that, a dream. As you work towards it, even though you’re getting closer, it feels like it moves farther away. But you have to believe me, it is getting closer. The hardest part is when you are so close to it that it doesn’t seem real, because it still feels out of your grasp. Every day becomes agony, like the end of a marathon. Your legs are burning and each step causes your body to scream NO MORE! But you take that step. You keep fighting. Somehow you keep moving forward. And then you finally do it…and everything you gave, everything you sacrificed…becomes worth it.
When I got out of the hospital, I dreaded getting the bill in the mail. I didn’t know how much it would be. When I finally, got it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hospital gave me a courtesy discount, knowing that I didn’t have insurance, which brought the $2500 dollar bill down to about $1100. Now before I left, the nurse gave me a form to apply for financial aid. It was basically for people with low incomes and didn’t have insurance. I didn’t expect to qualify because the previous year I worked crazy hours and ended up making $30K, however, 20K went directly to my student loans. I figured it was worth a shot, especially since I hadn’t had work in two weeks. One thing I did do was include the fact that the majority of the money I made went toward my student loans, and included my student loan receipts and income tax return to show the proof of what I was saying. Again, I wasn’t expecting much because in college, I applied for grants and scholarships all the time, but if you didn’t meet the criteria (your parents made to much, not high enough GPA, or various other requirements), you didn’t qualify.
About two weeks later, I got a letter in the mail saying that I qualified for 75% of my hospital bill to be taken care of on top of the discount I’d already gotten. I couldn’t believe it.
But one thing I’ll mention that I was doing during this time of no work, more debt being piled on me, was praying.
I was losing hope and I prayed to God that he would help me. I needed work. I needed help. But most of all I needed to be free.
I believe God answered that prayer, even more so today than I did then.
Because after work being off an on so much, and the progress I was making was slow to say the least, my brother and I got an email with a job offer. The job was doing something neither of us had done before: pipe insulation. But at $52 an hour, we figured it was worth a shot and knew it wouldn’t be that hard, plus if we got the job we could research and learn how to do it. Turns out it was for the Department of Defense and we were some of the only guys to pass the background checks.
We got the job and after two weeks of working here, I managed to pay off my last student loan. The job description mentioned it would be about two months of work, but it looks like it will be longer, which is great for me because from here on out every paycheck is now going towards my trip across America. Two more weeks and I’ll have all my equipment for the trip and then I’ll be saving up as much as possible.
There has been one major change to my trip plans though. Instead of heading out this year, I have decided to hold off until the beginning of January. The reason is because of work and having to continuously push my timeline back, my state to state route would have caused me to cut time from each state so that I could get south quicker and avoid getting caught in a New England winter. Cutting time from the adventure of a lifetime is the last thing I wanted to do. So I decided to adapt my route and set a new start date. It gives me more time to prepare and save up more, so I can do more fun things on the trip. It also allows me a better opportunity to get started becoming an adventure writer and filmmaker.
I gave everything to make this happen and now my life is my own again.
Remember, if you have dreams and follow them, they can take you anywhere. Dream big, but above all…Dream Free.
If you want to learn more about my journey and the events leading up to it, then I encourage you to read my previous posts and SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel:
Also be sure to LIKE my Facebook page (It’s my jump off point for content and updates)
I’d like to thank my family for helping me get to this point and putting up with me. I’d like to thank my friends who I’ve barely got to see, but know are about as excited as I am for the trip to start. And finally, I’d like to thank my fans for their love and support.
Forever your friend,
Thanks Y’all 😀