One of the questions commonly asked during a job interview is, “What are your goals 5-10 years from now?” In your answer, you incorporate some bullshit answer how you will have this new job at the base of your foundation and how you will grow with the company or whatever your excuse is. All I can say is that my life has never followed a five year plan. It got me really thinking: what was my five year plan when I was 17? What is my five year plan now? Why can’t I stick to the plan that I had in place for myself?
At 17, I was fairly accomplished for my age. I had been a part of my school’s speech and debate team for all four years of high school and had triple lettered and became a varsity debater by grade 10. By grade 11, I had just turned 17 and decided I wanted to go to school to become a paralegal. In grade 11, I started working at the local grocery store on weekdays and some weekends to make some money to buy a car. I was severely depressed, but managed to graduate with a 3.1 grade point average. I didn’t apply to university in the fall of my senior year because I didn’t have the grades for it and I was struggling with bipolar disorder that had yet to be diagnosed and I had to get my appendix out in fall of 2015. With all that being said, my senior year was a tough one and I nearly didn’t graduate.
Once I turned 18 and graduated summer of 2016, my five year plan was as follows:
- Apply and get into community college that had an accredited paralegal program
- Start the program in fall 2016
- Graduate in spring 2018
- Move out of my parents’ house and move in with Diego
- Continue working at the grocery store all through college until somewhere hires me as a legal assistant
- By fall 2018, work as a legal assistant for one year until I am promoted to paralegal
- Be engaged by the end of 2018
- Get married in 2019
- Buy a house in 2020 with the inheritance money I had
- Have a kid by the end of 2021
Now that I look at the list, a lot of things on it got checked off! Just not how I planned it.
In July of 2016, I applied and was accepted at a community college just north of Seattle. I took the accuplacer in August; a test that would determine which math and English courses I would be placed in. Because I flunked every class my senior year due to all of my health related excused absences, I was placed in Math 087 and English 099, which was essentially the high school equivalent of 11th grade algebra 2 and 11th grade English. I cried for weeks that I had to take high school classes in college. Diego was very supportive and said to take this opportunity to learn what I missed in high school, get good grades, and keep the momentum going for winter quarter.
After I passed my two “college” classes fall quarter, I started ticking off the checklist of the paralegal program. I took more prerequisites winter quarter, all while working full time at the grocery store and still managed a 3.8 GPA my first two quarters of college. In April 2017, I started taking my very first “Intro to Law” class, which I got a 4.0 in! I loved it and if I had any doubt about what I wanted to do with my professional life, those thoughts were ceased. I was ready to pursue and work in the legal world. In April, I had also picked up a second job at a bank because the store hours were reduced greatly in the spring and as a brand new checker, I had low seniority.
I had also applied to the shipyard in December 2016, something that Diego wanted for me because I would make excellent money and have great benefits. He supported my endeavors of going to school, but knew I could do it on the government’s dime, not mine (well my dad paid for school, except for transportation and books, so his dime.)
I had three interviews with the shipyard on June 9th, 2017. One was to become an electrician, one to become a marine machinery mechanic, and one to work as a shipwright. By the end of August, I was offered positions for both the electricians and the mechanics. I accepted the offer to become a mechanic because I said if I was going to be an electrician, I would get electrocuted. I had finished summer quarter and would not be planning on going back to school, even though that was my dream… or so I thought.
I was working so much between the store and the bank, getting over time at both places that I had enough money to move out! Diego’s lease ended August 31st, so I had found him and I a one bedroom, one bath house that was 1,000 square feet. It was a shit hole to say the least, but it was our shit hole. For the first month, we couldn’t get our property management company to fix the water heater, or the leak in the pipes below the sink, there was always a draft because the front door wasn’t installed properly, etc, etc. Diego and I were constantly having game nights at our place and we were party central.
In December 2017, I gave notice to the bank that I was leaving for the shipyard. I was sad to go because I really enjoyed whom I worked with and the job itself. But I was now going to work full time rather than part time and make $3/hour more than what I had at the bank and $5/hour more than at the store. I cheated on Diego that January of 2018 before I left the bank. February 3rd was my last day. I decided I would work on Sundays at the store in case I didn’t like the shipyard that way I wouldn’t lose the 4 years of seniority that I had.
I started February 5th, 2018, the day before my 20th birthday. On my birthday, Diego found out that I cheated on him and we had this big blow out fight. We went back and forth between being together or not. I moved out twice and moved back home with my parents when we weren’t together. August 5th, 2018, I broke my foot on the job at the shipyard. Diego and I were together at this point and we decided to move back in with our parents to save up money and decide what we wanted. I could no longer afford the house and I was lucky enough to have just bought a brand new car before I found out after the first 90 days of injury, I was no longer going to be compensated, even though I got hurt on the job.
All I had to pay for was this $400/month car payment. I got a job at the end of September 2018, right when my 90 days was up. My foot required major surgery but after 6 weeks of rest, I could get around okay enough with a brace or good walking shoes. I didn’t know when I would have surgery, but I knew I needed money to pay my bills. I didn’t have any money in savings because of the rent I was paying, a car payment, and utilities. I worked graveyard shift in a psych ward for kids. Most nights were calm, got paid fairly well, almost what I made when working for the government. Other nights were clusterfucks. Psychotic episodes were emotionally draining, especially when you yourself are bipolar and are on the brink of a psychotic episode yourself.
Through the on and off again relationship that Diego and I had, he proposed October 26th, 2018. We were laying in bed before Diego had to go to work and before I went to sleep for the night (I had gotten off of work at 7:30 am and he went to work at 10:30 am) and I was wearing his large pajamas when I joked about when he would finally marry me. Then he reached over and grabbed a little box from his dresser drawer. He laid back down and said, “Dani, will you marry me?” I thought he was kidding! I had been begging him to ask me since August when I knew he bought the engagement ring. I didn’t see the ring until he popped the question. Once he restated the question, I said “Yes!” I then asked “Aren’t you gonna put the ring on my finger?” He slid the ring on my finger, slightly too large. Diego then said he was gonna take a shower before work. As I laid there, admiring the ring, I realized how much I disliked it. It was a circular cut, halo style with a criss-cross band. The halo style I loved, but everything else was wrong.
Much like the ring, the engagement was also wrong. I couldn’t go through with it. He ended up getting me a new ring, the perfectest ring, I know that perfectest is not a word, but this ring rocked! I bought him his wedding band, we put a deposit down on a wedding venue for the whole weekend, I bought a wedding dress two days after he proposed… Everything was falling into place, except for my heart. Something was wrong. To this day, I am not sure what that gut feeling was, standing on those cold steps to his parents’ house in December, throwing in the towel, I said I couldn’t do it. I gave him back the perfectest ring and I left.
I quit the psych ward on February 28th, 2019. I had enough of graveyard. Went back to the store full time. I checked people’s groceries while sitting in a chair; a big grocery no-no. But they made an exception because I was desperate for a job and they knew I was a good worker. I worked there until the middle of July when I quit on the spot. I was very suicidal and I asked Diego if I could go home and he said no. We weren’t together and wasn’t about to do me any favors. So I walked out. I was over the bullshit and the games, so I quit. Diego had Brent run after me. Just to paint a better picture: Brent is in a boot and his foot was in a cast, so he wasn’t running anywhere. Even my gimpy self was faster than he could waddle, so I drove off. I spent all of my savings at the casino. I left defeated and broke after 8 hours, but at least I still was alive.
The next day I started applying for jobs, having no where to go and I still awaited surgery on my foot. Out of no where, there is a local legal assistant job posting and I apply. Worst that could happen was say no, right? Well two interviews later and with my limited schooling, I became a legal assistant! It was strictly part time, but it paid above minimum wage and I learned a lot. The attorney I worked for initially was very compassionate and understanding, yet he would bark out orders and yell about things that didn’t really matter. Two months of being on my toes at all time, I got a pay raise and a promotion to paralegal. That was October 5th, 2019 and just a couple days later I got my surgery date of October 28th! It was so soon after waiting for so long. The attorney was fine giving me time off, it just wouldn’t be paid. So my doctor said I needed two weeks mandatory after surgery and then to elevate my foot for 6 weeks after that. So after my four hour surgery, repairing the original chip fracture, creating micro fractures to the bone to allow healing, and getting rid of old scar tissue, I went home and my mom and Diego took care of me.
Day 3 I tore off my cast. Mind you, it was bulky Jones splint so it took about 30 minutes to get all the cotton and plaster off. I had hoped it would make the pressure in my foot go away because not even the narcotics were helping and it didn’t. So right before my mom was about to go to bed, she checks on me and my ice and much to her surprise, the cast remains are all over the floor and all in my bed and oh was she pissed. Luckily it was Sunday so we could get my cast back on the next day.
I got my bulky Jones back on and oh did that feel good to have some support for my foot. Afterwards they kinda joke saying, ‘Hey, don’t do that again! Ha ha ha’. I didn’t but I was in tears wanting to so bad. It was the one bit of control I had because I couldn’t drive, couldn’t do anything. The only sense of normalcy was that I kept getting calls, emails, and texts from work saying, “Where’s this?” “How do you do that?” “I fired the other paralegal.” What?! I picked up my phone to that one. Apparently business was failing and he was an awful paralegal (He just graduated law school with his juris doctor). Our paychecks were late nearly every week, so I knew business was failing and the dude was very attractive, but very lazy. I said, “What’s the game plan now, Mark?” “Together we are going to make this a well oiled machine and get business back on track… once you come back, well if you still want to come back.”
Next thing I knew, I was back in action. Once we worked through all the mistakes the other paralegal had made, we really were the dynamic duo. For Christmas, he got me the She-Hulk bobble head toy for my desk to go along with my She-Hulk comics that were taped on my computer screen. She-Hulk was a female attorney, so it was suiting for me to have that be my new favorite super-heroine. I got him some sarcastic coffee mugs to add to his collection (he had thousands) and a vintage sign for his man cave. Then we went on Christmas break and the trouble began.
I made a series of Facebook posts that Mark and his wife both saw because they considered me to be their friends. It was called the Life is Good Challenge. Essentially you post 10 pictures, for 10 days on why life is good. I added explanations for each because I wanted to. My first picture I had a selfie of me and my business card. In a different post I discuss my bipolar disorder and how it’s under control and I was doing well. On Tuesday, December 31st, he suspended me without pay for “jeopardizing the company’s name”. By January 6th, 2020, I was fired. All because he thought me posting on my personal Facebook page about me being healthy and happy, living life with bipolar disorder would jeopardize his already failing business.
After that I went on unemployment, had a brief stint as a medical records specialist before I walked out. Now I am back on unemployment. Diego bought a house in March 2020 and we have been talking for about a month now and so I have helped him with a lot of the repairs on his home and all of the “feminine touches”. Actually got his favorite photo of us and his little brother blown up and ready to be hung in his home. I don’t know if and when I’ll move in, but we are taking things slowly. I honestly think we finally have our timing right and this will work out. I have no desire to be with anyone else but him and vice versa. He is the person I imagine being the father to our children and my future husband, all in their respective times.
How much did I check off the list?
- YES Apply and get into community college that had an accredited paralegal program
- YES Start the program in fall 2016
- No Graduate in spring 2018
- YES and No Move out of my parents’ house and move in with Diego
- YES Continue working at the grocery store all through college until somewhere hires me as a legal assistant
- KINDA YEAH By fall 2018, work as a legal assistant for one year until I am promoted to paralegal
- YES Be engaged by the end of 2018
- Almost Get married in 2019
- LOL NOPE Buy a house in 2020 with the inheritance money I had
- ??? Have a kid by the end of 2021
New Five Year Plan!
- Get a job by June 15th, 2020 — one month and a couple days
- Start at Tacoma Community College in Fall 2020
- Move in with Diego by December 2020
- Look into getting mediation certification by June 2021
- Travel somewhere new with Diego by October 2021
- Graduate with my Associates in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies and receive my Limited Legal Licensed Technician certificate from TCC by June 2022
- Get my hours in for mediation and LLLT underneath an attorney
- Get engaged by fall 2022
- Get married 2023
- Start my own practice 2025
Let’s see what happens!
Til next time,