My freshman year of high school is when America Online really took off in America. I was blessed enough that my mom bought me a computer for my Christmas present that year. It had a whopping 100 MB hard drive! My how times have changed.
AOL became my best friend throughout high school. I was always on Instant Messenger reaching out to people. I would be on message boards and chat rooms just typing away!
I even reconnected with a close childhood friend of mine. Remember those days when you had to pay for long-distance? Chatting on AOL IM took care of that.
I use to be embarrassed with how much time I spent on AOL. I guess that’s nothing compared to how often people use social media nowadays.
A O.G. (Online Gamer)
Due to my newfound friend called AOL I played a lot of games. My favorite one was Air Warrior. I would play it 12+ hours a day if possible. My weekends revolved around Air Warrior. Who needed friends in the real world!
My buddies were all fellow pilots like myself in Air Warrior. Air Warrior was a way for me to escape the reality of my real world and interact with grown adults. These were grown adults who played video games but treated me with respect.
It was something about being respected and having a normal conversation with people all across the world that drew me to those online games. Those guys opened my eyes up towards possible careers and dreams to pursue. All from a simple game.
Cursed with Pets
Growing up my brother always would have pet fish. When he left the house I was determined to have my own pets. My mom never wanted a dog therefore she settled on me having gerbils.
In my middle school year I had a couple gerbils but they all quickly died. When I got to high school I decided to try and get a pet guinea pig. I loved that guinea pig to death. Sadly it unexpectedly died. That hurt more than the gerbils dying.
Eventually my dad and his family had a Cocker Spaniel they could no longer keep. My mom agreed to that I could have the dog. My dad drove from Cincinnati to Virginia to drop the dog off. I had the dog for less than 24 hours before the dog ran away.
Two months later a animal shelter found the dog. If I could go back in time, I would tell my mom and myself DON’T FALL FOR THE CUTENESS!! RUN AWAY!!! HE IS EVIL!
I kid you not when I say that was the Dog from Hell! Being on the road for so long just caused the dog to go crazy. The dog would only use the bathroom inside the house. So almost every day I had to clean up the mess. Additionally the dog would constantly bark and growl at EVERYONE who entered our house. I could never take the dog on walks because he would just go berserk.
I had Scotty for almost a year before we gave him away. It sucked because I always wanted a dog. Little did I know I would get a dog from hell! It was the perfect finale for my pet owner experience during those teenage years.
I did not attend one single school related dance. No Prom. No homecoming. I do not feel like I missed out on a life changing moment because I always knew I would do more after high school than in it.
My only regret is just not asking the girls who had crushes on me to the dances. Throughout my childhood, I could spot them out. One of those girls actually asked me to escort her to Homecoming.
I respected the nerves it took for her to approach her crush and actually ask me out. I know our families were expecting me to say yes because I was Mr. Nice guy. Nine times out of ten I probably would have said yes.
But at that moment in time, I was afraid of her thinking that it was more than just a friendship. Because I didn’t want to give false hope I said no.
The weeks leading up to homecoming I felt pretty bad. Due to that situation, I never even thought about asking any other girl to a dance. I didn’t want to look like a jerk.
In my senior year, I did have a girl I thought I was in a long distance relationship with (remember AOL was my best friend!). We were suppose to go to our senior proms together but she broke up with me a month before prom season.
That was a huge uppercut to the gut. The weeks prior to the break up, every time I called she was always hanging out with some guy. I saw the writing on the wall, I was just hoping for us to last until prom before we went our separate ways. Nope, she beat me to the punch!
So with the months invested in that false relationship (looking back I can’t even call it a real relationship), I didn’t even think about local girls to ask to the prom. A couple girls told me they were not going to the prom (giving hints that they wanted me to ask them), but I was so rattled by the long distance break up I never asked. Again, I don’t regret not going to the dances, I just regret not asking anyone that wanted me to ask.
Settled for Average Grades
In high school I underachieved in all my classes. Despite school being extremely easy for me I just never inspired to go above and beyond. I was OK with just getting C+’s and B’s for grades. I never tried to get straight A’s. I knew I was suppose to go to college, so I just did the minimum to get accepted by the average college.
Once I got accepted into college during the fall of my senior year I REALLY stopped caring. Senior year became a joke to me. I took several college level classes that year with the intent on getting college credit.
Once I found out that I wouldn’t get credit due to not meeting the grade criteria, it was a wrap! I took not caring to a whole different level! I showed up to classes and would sleep. I would get F’s on purpose to disrupt my Statistics teacher’s perfect student average grade bell curve (I didn’t like the guy for some juvenile reason). I felt I tried so hard for so long, that it was time for a break.
Little did I know that I was still eligible for several scholarships. Due to being a minority I was involved in special guidance counselor programs. I half listened to the advice and warnings about college scholarship opportunities. One day I got invited to a awards ceremony for Northern Virginia fraternities and sororities.
At this point in my life I had no idea what a fraternity or sorority was. I was completely ignorant to their existence. Apparently I was eligible for numerous scholarships from this group before this award ceremony took place. Additionally there were other local and national scholarships that I could have won if I had applied during my senior year.
I totally regret not trying hard enough in school because it was a slap in my face when I went to college and saw the financial aid they were getting due to grades. I ended up paying more for my education all because I was ok with just being average. The lesson I try and to tell the youth today is always try and do your best. Don’t just settle for being average!