How can I get over resentment of others stemming from my "I'm still a degree-less waitress" mentality.
To preface, a little about my educational history. I've always been an above average student. Advanced high school classes were easy enough for me. My first attempt at college I flunked out. I wanted to socialize instead. I got serious and went to a different school a year later. I did very well again. I switched majors constantly because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Essentially, aside from the knowledge I gained, I wasted a lot of time and money doing this.
I moved to Chicago when I was 24, because I really really wanted to live in a big city with all my friends who were finishing school and getting jobs here. I didn't have a degree or a job. I found a job waiting tables. I loved where I worked- the people, the atmosphere. I really felt at home. I made pretty good money to boot- more than my friends with degrees who were just starting out in their new careers. I told myself I would finish a degree before I turned 30. That was the goal, anyway. I played around for a few years and didn't enroll in any school immediately. Why should I? I was making enough money to pay the rent and still have fun! Geez....
The owners of the restaurant I was working at opened another restaurant a few years later. They asked me if I wanted to transfer to the new place. I was happy to. They told me I would make even more money at the new restaurant. They had also asked me a few times if I wanted to go into management and start working my way up in the company. I declined because while I enjoyed this line of work as a young 20-something, I knew I wanted to leave the lifestyle eventually and be a "normal person" with a 9 to 5 job, or at least something like it. I still have absolutely no desire to stay in restaurants forever.
So I went to the new restaurant and they were right- the money was and still is pretty good. Fast forward a little and now I'm 30 (I'm female, if that's of any relevance.) I did go back to school shortly after starting at the new restaurant and recently received my associates in architecture from a 2 year community college. It was the first major I've found that I REALLY liked. I've been pulling the school-by-day-work-by-night to the point that I'm quite used to it, now. My problem is that I still have (at least) 2 years left of school before I feel like I can move on to a different job. An associates in architecture doesn't land you much of a job in this economy.
While I was studying at the community college I really fell in love with sustainable architecture. I learned all about these green walls
and really liked what they were all about. I applied for a grant at my school to build one and I was successful in getting the grant but there was all this red tape with the city about putting one on the school (which the grant stipulated had to be the location) that I was ultimately shot down. I've been sort of lost since then. I was kind of hoping that maybe I could parlay that green wall into a potential career. That first one being done in a location with a lot of visibilty on someone else's dime would have been great for me. I could have learned what about them works and doesn't work in this climate for free. The grant can't be resurrected at this point. After I graduated from that school I had a few decisions to make- 1) keep going for an architectural degree, which would mean another 4 or 5 years of school and I can't have a job for the last few years. I don't even know if this is possible for me at this point. 2) Go for some other degree and hopefully finish in 2 or so years. I'm thinking something along the lines of environmental studies. Both of these options leave me with waiting tables for the forseeable future. I don't really know how to do anything else, let alone something that will pay me well and give me the time to finish a degree. The entrepreneur in me wants to run off and try to start a green business- screw the degree. I don't think this is really a smart idea, but there is a part of me that would love to try. I mean, I'm not getting any younger. Eventually I want to settle down, get married and have kids. The clock is ticking on that front.
I don't want to sound like a complainer- my life isn't that bad. I am just really starting to feel resentful of all these "kids" I work with that have degrees that their parents paid for and are looking for real jobs and I'm the veteran 30 year old that still waits tables and will be doing that for a while while I pay my own way through school. I need the money. I can't not work. I have debt that I am trying to pay off (I was a stupid 18 year old that got a credit card). No bank will loan me money at this point. I am turning into a bitter person. I don't want to be that. I'm focusing way too much on all these young, successful people that have, or will soon have, real careers and a lot more money than me. I am jealous of all of them.
I have a drive in me to be successful but I feel lost. I know I made some mistakes and I'm paying for them now but I feel like I'm spinning the wheels all the time and getting nowhere. I talk to people in the field and volunteer at various places all the time to learn more about sustainable architecture but without a god damn degree I fear I'm unemployable and useless.
Let me get to my questions then:
1) Am I overlooking something? What else can I do to accelerate this process? Is there something else I should be doing right now to make things happen faster? I know there's no magic pill but am I missing something? Anything?
2) This is the big one- How do I stop being so resentful and jealous of all the happy people while I'm stuck in this rut of mine? I really, really don't want to feel this way. Do you guys ever feel like this?