How bad do you want it?
My hectic summer taught me how to prioritize my life
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 23:09
Eric Thomas, a popular motivational speaker, once said: “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”
This quote was the epitome of my summer. It helped give me a new perspective on life and realize that sometimes, in order to get where you want to go, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything you have to set yourself up for success.
For three months this summer, I worked as a promotions assistant at Entercom Buffalo, LLC. I made $7.25 per hour building connections and relationships with clients, promoting grand openings for local businesses and working events with on-air personalities for 20 hours some weeks and 30 hours another.
On my down time – two or three times a week – I interned as a sports reporter at the Tonawanda News, where I covered local high school sports.
I wanted to start establishing my identity in the field I hope to have a future in.
I didn’t care if I didn’t sleep at all. I just wanted to succeed.
It was the first time I had broken free from Wegmans Food Markets – a grocery store I had worked at for five years. I was making almost $10 per hour when I left.
I got sick of telling people what I wanted to do instead of actually doing it.
I knew that if I continued to work at a dead-end job, I would drift to the outskirts of society – never accomplishing anything I said I wanted to do after high school.
But I soon learned there is a price to pay for every difficult decision you make.
I went from worrying about where my friends were going to go out each night to worrying about when my next article was due, when the next radio event was and how I was going to pay my bills.
I’ve always had priorities and responsibilities, but not to this degree.
Every two weeks, my paycheck was directly deposited into my bank account from Entercom Buffalo.
Sometimes I’d get a really good paycheck – $435 – that would come at the end of the month, which was a formidable amount to pay my rent of $350. It left me with $85 to divide up between gas and food.
Other times, my paycheck was only $300. I would have to spend at least $120 of it on utility bills and was left, again, with $180 to divide up amongst other expenses.
With the inconsistency of my pay and never knowing if I would have enough money to cover expenses, I was forced to change my living habits.
No more going out on weekends for drinks with friends. No more shopping sprees to pick up a pair of shoes or clothes.
I had responsibilities.
I had just enough money to buy milk, eggs, chicken, bread, cereal, peanut butter, pasta and tuna.
I found a way to buy all these groceries for only $40-$50, and they had to last me two weeks until my next paycheck came at the end of the month.
There were times I mishandled my funds and, sometimes, had no money to spend on food. I’d have to either scrounge up what was left in my pantry or not eat.
But I didn’t care because I was determined to make it work.
I feel there’s a lot of advice one can take from my summer working experience.
The first is if something means a lot to you and you have a passion, go out and chase it. The money will come later. Gain experience and knowledge while you’re still in college.
You are spending a lot of money on your education, so don’t let your old high school job dictate your life because it pays better. More experience brings better opportunities.
Secondly, you can change your mentality and habits if you want to.
I did – because nothing was more important than succeeding.