Throughout my life I have had trouble with my career choices. During my early elementary school years, I obviously had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was only around the fourth grade that I began taking my own aspirations somewhat seriously. Throughout the rest of my time in elementary school and middle school, I had a lot of different career aspirations: Detective, archaeologist, music producer, photographer, cook, restaurant manager, and seaman. Those last two were the results of taking a career aptitude test. However, it was not until late into my second semester of the eighth grade that I thought I realized what I should be: a video game writer.
Well, not exactly. I wanted to be the person who came up with the ideas for video games, but I had no idea what title that person went by. I eventually learned that they were called a “game designer,” but then I found out that “designer” is what every member of the development team is called, and then I found out that the person in charge of a game’s development is called the “director”. However, the idea for a game doesn’t always come from the director—it can come from any member of the development. Besides, “video game director” is a position you have to be promoted to, so I would have to start as something else.
Unfortunately, I did not learn most of this until the twelfth grade. I think I was late into the school year too by this time. I tried finding as much information as I could throughout high school, but it was not until I was about to graduate that I found anything that was actually helpful. Also, there are barely any video game companies in the state I grew up in. The number one problem is that this type of career goal requires a good fallback or backup career; although I feel like everyone should have some sort of backup for their primary career goals, regardless of what those goals are. This lack of a secondary career path led to one of the biggest mistakes in my life: rushing into college.
I graduated from an online high school in August 2010, and then enrolled in college the very next month. I chose retail management as my major, thinking that I could pursue a career in selling video games as my backup for a career in creating video games. However, I badly needed a job to pay for tuition, and I eventually stopped doing my assignments to focus more on the job hunt. I really should have thought it over more. By the way, I promised myself that I would never, ever take out a loan in my entire life, so student loans were not an option for me. I loathe the idea of having to spend the rest my life paying back money.
Over a year after I first enrolled in college, I enrolled in a career school, choosing hotel/restaurant management as my major. This time, I did put a good amount of thought into this decision before going through with it, and I had help from family to pay for tuition. Then I had my first lesson. Right there, in the very first text that I was assigned to read, I was told that a diploma in hotel/restaurant management did not mean anything without some work experience. I should have switched majors right then and there, because it was basically telling me that this entire course was pointless, but no, I didn’t; I stuck with the course, earned my diploma, and then failed miserable at finding any sort of job at any hotel or restaurant. I think the biggest problems were that I had written that I would not cook meat in my resume, and that I lived in a town full of close-minded people who did not believe in online education.
At some point while reading this, you were probably thinking, “Why not aim for a degree in computer science? That way you could get a job as a video game programmer, and you would have computer skills that could get you jobs in several other industries as well.” That is because I hated computers, and did not want any job that revolved around them. However, in late 2012, I realized that computers are just going to become more and more important in every job out there, so I had to get more used to them. I decided to go all-in with this and re-enrolled in college for an associate of science in graphic design.
On December 3, 2015, after almost three years of College Take Two, I earned my degree; but there were two problems. Halfway through my course, I realized that I care way more about the stories and characters from my video game ideas than I did actual gameplay, and that I should be trying to turn my ideas into TV shows instead of video games. That’s actually how they started out, by the way. During the second half of elementary school, I began coming up with ideas for TV shows. Late into middle school, I imagined those shows getting video game adaptations. I then exclusively imaged them as video games. As a result, when thinking about what I should do for a career, I decided I should turn these imaginary games into reality. The second problem was that there was way less demand for graphic designers than I thought, at least where I lived. I pretty much had to apply to jobs out of state, but no-one was willing to do interviews over the phone or webcam. I couldn’t even get jobs in cities I could drive to, because I never got my driver’s license! I couldn’t, there was no-one to teach me and I hate driving!
It took so long to get hired for a job that was related to my field. I eventually got a work-from-home contract job as a photo editor, adding new backgrounds to pictures of cars and trucks so they could be used for advertisements. I hated this job. At first, it was OK. I was fine with it. Over time, I got better at it; but at some point, I peaked, and there were just not enough tasks for me to take. Not only was I never able to make enough money to move out and live on my own, but I eventually got worse at the job, which got more and more stressful as the solitude and monotony got to me.
After a year of working at this job, I decided that I needed a change in career. After three months of carefully thinking about it, I enrolled at my local community college to get a degree in therapeutic massage. Unfortunately, I was unwilling to ask my relatives to help me cover tuition again, and my photo editing job wasn’t paying enough to help, so I had to take out a student loan. I promised myself I would never take out a loan, and I broke that promise. To this day, I hate myself for doing that.
Towards the end of my first semester, I quit my job as a photo editor, which was negatively affecting my health. I got one A and three B’s for my first semester, but I dropped two of my second semester classes before it ended. I could no longer get a degree in massage therapy, but I could still get a vocational certificate. However, I had to transfer to another school in another state. I was homeless during my time at this college, and the massage therapy class was in danger of shutting down due to a lack of students. I liked massage therapy, but I had to drop out.
Now I’m living in Canada with my birth family, working another job I hate while waiting out a pandemic so I can find a job in retail or entertainment. There is a lesson here that I want everyone reading this to take away from my story: do your researching and think very carefully about what you want to do for a career. Do not rush into college before knowing what you want to study or what you want to do once you graduate. If you don’t know what to do by the time you finish high school, then take a year off; take two if you have to! Just don’t rush into your post-high school life, or you may just regret it.
“[Some postmodernists embrace] a critical pedagogy which assigns strategic value to the education of women and men capable of realizing, comparing, opting, and naturally, acting. Indeed, the need to make decisions quickly is an important act in societies where information and communication become accelerated. The fundamental problem for the centers of power lies in how to produce so specialized a variety of criticalness that decisions will be produced in line with the truth of the strong – the oppressors – and will always negate the truth of the weak.” – Freire, Pedagogy of the Heart
Lawson family massacre
On Christmas Day, 1929, shots rang out across the countryside near Germanton, North Carolina, as Charlie Lawson murdered his wife and six of his children before taking his own life hours later. To this day, no one knows why he committed these terrible acts.
Charlie Lawson had been married to Fannie Manring for 18 years, during which time they had eight children, four sons and four daughters. Their third child, William, died in 1920, but the other seven children were still alive on the morning of December 25, 1929. By the evening, only sixteen-year-old Arthur would remain in the living world.
The Lawson family worked as sharecroppers, and had finally saved enough to buy their own farm just two years before the tragedy. Not long before that fateful Christmas morning, the whole family went into town to buy new clothes for a family portrait, which would prove to be the last photo taken of them alive. Since new clothes and portraits were unusual luxuries for working class families of the era, many have since seen this as proof of premeditation on Charlie Lawson’s part, perhaps immortalizing his loved ones before destroying them.
The bloody crime began on Christmas afternoon, as Lawson’s daughters Carrie and Maybell (ages twelve and seven, respectively) were leaving to visit their aunt and uncle. Charlie Lawson lay in wait for them near the barn, and when they drew close enough he shot them both with a shotgun. He then bludgeoned their bodies, presumably to ensure that they were dead. Afterward, Lawson hid the evidence of his crimes in the tobacco barn.
From there, he walked back to the house and shot his wife, who was on the porch, before tracking down his other four children and killing them one-by-one. He shot his seventeen-year-old daughter Marie first, then his two young sons James (age four) and Raymond (age two), before beating to death his four-month-old baby Mary Lou.
Prior to going on his bloody spree, Charlie Lawson sent his oldest son Arthur into town on an errand, though his motives for sparing the one child remain as mysterious as his motives for murdering the others.
When his family was dead, Charlie Lawson carefully positioned their bodies, arms crossed, with rocks under their heads like pillows. After that, he disappeared into the nearby woods, where he stayed for several hours before shooting himself in the head. By the time Charlie Lawson committed suicide, the bodies of his family had already been found, and several neighbors who had gathered on his property heard the gunshot that ended his life.
Charlie’s body was found by a tree, encircled with footprints. He had been carrying letters to his parents, and appeared to have spent some time pacing around the tree before finally deciding to end his life as well.
At the time, no one seemed to know why Charlie Lawson would suddenly kill his entire family and then himself. Some believed that a head injury he sustained months prior was the cause, though an autopsy revealed no evidence of brain damage. Rumors swirled that Lawson hadn’t actually committed the murders at all; that he was an unfortunate witness to some sort of organized crime, and he and his family were murdered by gangsters to keep them quiet.
In later years, with the 1990 publication of the book White Christmas, Bloody Christmas by Trudy J. Smith, a new theory as to the reason behind Charlie Lawson’s killing spree surfaced. According to anonymous sources, as well as relatives and friends of the family, Charlie Lawson was suspected of having an incestuous relationship with his oldest daughter Marie, who may have been pregnant with his child. In a 2006 book, The Meaning of Our Tears, the author provided more support for this theory, including a conversation with one of Marie’s closest friends, who claimed that Marie had told her that Charlie had gotten her pregnant. There is, however, no official report that would support this supposed pregnancy.
Arthur Lawson, the only remaining member of the family, grew up, was married, and had four children. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident in 1945 at the age of 32.
There is a small museum dedicated to the Lawson Family, located at the Madison Dry Goods Country Store in Madison, North Carolina. The museum sits on the original site of the funeral home where the eight members of the Lawson family who died that fateful Christmas were embalmed. To this day, tourists and locals alike pop into Madison Dry Goods to view newspaper clippings and old photographs of the Lawson Family affair.
“After all of these years, people are still fascinated with that terrible tragedy,” says Richard Miller, owner of Madison Dry Goods.
The eight Lawsons who perished that Christmas day—including Charlie—are interred together with lost baby William beneath a single headstone, which bears the melancholy inscription: “Not now, but in the coming years / It will be in a better land / We’ll read the meaning of our tears / And then sometime we’ll understand.”
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Friendly reminder that not everyone needs to persue higher education.
Don’t get pressured by friends, school, family or society to do that.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to get higher education even if you don’t want to.
If you don’t want to, that’s totally fine. Not everyone needs a degree.
Please get a job that makes you happy. Don’t go to college/university and study something only for the money.
Money doesn’t make you happy. Passion does.