How My Life Perspective Changed at a Gas Station

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I Have a Confession.

My name is Kristin and I, among other things, am a WRITER.  I write because I love it; I write because it is my thing—what I’ve done since I was a child; and I write because it’s what I think I’m on this earth to do.

But that is not my confession.

My confession is this:  I don’t always love writing. I don’t always feel like it is my thing—in fact, I often feel like a total fraud and question my ability.

I have days where I am gung-ho, all-in, motivated, and excited.  Those are the days when I see POTENTIAL; I see my dream of working from home as a full-time writer.

Then, I have days where I can just stare into the abyss of a white computer screen and convince myself it is all for naught.  Those days are usually fueled by a series of rejections or from a lack of results.  These are the times when my motivation gets shaky and my heart is reeling with doubt.

But I am not a quitter.  I will rest.  I will re-think my strategies.  I will allow myself to be human. 

I will even cry if I want to…and I do…and I did.

But, I will not quit.

I remember looking for my first “adult” job, fresh out of college.  It was a wonderful time to look for employment (I say sarcastically)—right at the onset of the Persian Gulf War.  Living in a military-saturated area, most residents were deployed, while many others, like myself, were unemployed.

I had to settle for a job at a grocery store while I pursued more-desirable employment.  I felt so humiliated when people from my high school or college would come to the store.  I knew what they were thinking—it was what I was thinking—you went to college for this?  But I needed money.  I was interning for free at a local chamber of commerce so that I could gain some marketable job experience.  My dad at the time did not understand this: “why don’t you go back to get your master’s,” he would say.  “Why are you working for free?”

I tried explaining that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life first.  I had been hitting a brick wall with my job search—the ol’ you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job—so I knew that I needed to find a way to gain work experience.  The internship was my way.

So, with my head down, I went to my  grocery store gig to earn money.  I finally resigned myself to the fact that I would run into people I knew; my confidence was at rock bottom.

It was at this time that I learned a valuable lesson—one that I still remember to this day—and it happened at a gas station.  In those days, full-service gas pumps were still an option. In fact at this station, every gas pump was full service.  In high school, the service attendants were often my fellow classmates. Post-college and on this day, it was a man whose child I used to babysit.  He was a bank executive, so seeing him wear the station’s uniform was surprising.

What impressed me the most was that he didn’t try hiding the fact that he worked there.  Instead, he walked over cheerfully and helped me pump my gas.  That was when it dawned on me that he must have lost his job in the throes of the Persian Gulf War recession.

gas-attendantUnlike me, some college graduate punk, who worked at a grocery store with shame, this man approached me with his head high.  He had more reason than me to feel down.  He had a wife, a child, and a prominent job.  But you wouldn’t have known it.  With a smile on his face and such a cheerful manner, he helped me—not just with my gas, but also with my perspective on life.

This man had experienced a disappointing and difficult set back.  But instead of surrendering to his despair, he faced it, embraced it, and did what he needed to do at the time.  This experience must have been so difficult and humbling for him. I am sure when he lost his job, he must have been devastated and felt as if someone punched him in the gut.  I am sure that he was scared, depressed, and wanted to cry.  He is human, after all.  And no human is without challenges.

I don’t know what happened later with this man. I can only assume that his positive attitude allowed him to obtain another job.  Shortly after this incident, I had gotten a job in another city and moved away.  The job?  It was at a chamber of commerce; they said it was my nonpaying internship at the local chamber that made them take notice.

I do regret not going back to thank this man, although I am sure he has no idea the impact he had on my life.  It was on that day that I promised myself that I would always try to maintain a positive attitude and do whatever job I am given with a cheerful attitude. I would always be thankful and persevere. 

So yesterday, I felt like quitting on all my dreams.  That is my confession.

But that was yesterday and today is a new day.  Today, I am figuring out my next move and how I am going to take action.

Because you know what else?  I am not a quitter!


4 Comments on “How My Life Perspective Changed at a Gas Station

  1. Thank you for writing this! I can so relate. I went to college for teaching, but changed my major my third semester in to writing–my true passion. My advisor said, “Finally. I wondered when you would make this right move.” I was on top of the world. But then I dropped out of school for a ton of reasons (still glad I did) and ended up working as a cashier at Toys R Us. I was SO EMBARRASSED every time someone came in who I knew. All around me, people were disappointed in me and didn’t believe I could make it as a writer. That was 2010. Seven years later, and I’m still getting rejections, still facing disappointment and criticism. But more importantly…I’M STILL TRYING. Trying, learning, always pushing forward. Some days are hard, but our efforts and dreams will come to fruition some day. Hang in there!

    • Thank you for your sweet posting! Yes, what is important is that we keep on, keeping on! I am grateful for those along the journey who encourage us to do so — such as your kind posting. We will make it happen!

  2. This is a wonderful post. You never know when or where life will get your attention. 🙂

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