A Poor ($80,000!) Decision


I wonder why more people aren’t opening their own businesses today.  I think that it’s because our population is so segmented that people don’t have the dreams, vision, or drive to do it.  I have to admit, I spent my twenties “going with the flow” without a clear plan for my future.  I went from decent job to decent job until ten years had passed and I realized I was still sitting at a desk without any new, concrete plans for my future.

It is necessary to dream your life into reality.  Dreams are the most powerful and exciting part of my days now.

It’s only when you have confidence in yourself and you remove every mental barrier to your potential future that you can open yourself up to dream big.  I believe in the success of Primrose Station so deeply that it makes my heart warm and gives me the energy to not be dissuaded by the obstacles and challenges that will come our way.

Granted, I am not in Montana right now, doing the day-to-day chores like Al is, but I have my own challenges here in Mississippi.

When Al and I got married, we moved to California so he could attend a military school and I decided that I might as well use that time to further my education.  “…Might as well…” being the significant phrase in that sentence.  I’m pretty sure that my decision was based on a combination of (a) feeling competitive with my friends who were getting graduate degrees (b) feeling like I was lacking something without one, because we are in a tough job market these days, and (c) feeling a desire to travel internationally (and The Monterey Institute of International Studies does have the word international in it).

The irony is that I got the least marketable degree possible for my life.  Overall, I could count the decision to go to grad school (with it’s $80,000 price tag) as an EPIC FAIL.

It should be pretty obvious that a graduate degree in International Policy with a focus on Nonproliferation and Terrorism for someone living in a small town in Montana doesn’t make sense.

Now, Al and I discuss this sometimes and justify it in the following ways: (a) you learned a lot and bettered yourself (b) you met some really good people (c) you can get a PhD now and work at the university…but to be 100% honest with you, I’ve always thought that paying for an education is bullshit.  In our society, it may be essential bullshit, but it still smells like a sewage treatment plant.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to school, but we all know that degrees are pieces of paper that cannot and should not define us.

And, on top of that, $80,000 is a lot of money to work with. $80,000 could have gotten us well on our way to having a functional building.  We probably could have had our radiant floor heating, windows, plumbing, and electricity by now.  And, Alton would not have had a wife whining about living like a hobo for nine months.

So, to compensate for my moronic decision to spend $80,000 that I didn’t have on a degree that I didn’t need, I enlisted in the Army National Guard.  Now, $50,000 of my student loan debt will be paid off over the next eight years by someone besides me!!  Thank you Army, hooah!  I moved from one challenge to a completely different challenge and now I’m in Mississippi learning how to become a 12W, Construction and Mortar Specialist–remember this is “the wife” writing this, so I went so far out of my comfort zone it was like I was jumping off of a cliff deciding to commit eight years of my life to military service, then learning a job that is in a male dominated field.  Yet, the decision to go into military service to learn construction fits so perfectly into my life that everything makes sense again.

I can’t wait to write some posts about laying concrete, building walls, and framing in buildings.  Al is the prepper in the family, but now that I am learning a trade and not just pushing papers, we can work together to better our future and make an awesome working homestead.  In this instance, a few wrongs did make a right, and that is the life of an entrepreneur–to confidently move forward without knowing what the future holds, because as we evolve and adapt, our plans will evolve and adapt until we become more sure about what we want and who we are.  Take a chance on yourself, it will lead you somewhere interesting, even if its somewhere you didn’t expect!

And stay tuned for new chicken coops and rabbit hutches when I get home!

6 thoughts on “A Poor ($80,000!) Decision

  1. 🙂 What a lovely read ten minutes before I head off to my first day of the semester! Thanks for including that number in there Erin- the one with the eight followed by four zeros- I’m glad and inspired to hear such a positive story about someone with the exact same number as me!! Also how great that Alton helps you justify your degree 🙂 That’s a good team. Also I was just out to the station with Dawn this weekend and am a-m-a-z-e-d. You guys are moving fast!! I got to hold your bun-buns, they were so soft! Also the construction work you’re doing sounds so interesting- I can’t wait to read more soon!!

    Let the amount of exclamation points I’ve used relay my feelings of excitement and goodwill towards you two in all your endeavors 🙂

    1. Thanks Mike! I’m so glad that made you feel positive and invigorated–that’s what we’re shooting for, lol! You definitely need to come hang out there throughout the summer–we’ll be working our butts off, and getting tan, and drinking cocktails while we snuggle baby rabbits. Should be a pretty good time. 🙂

  2. Hey!
    I am so glad I found this blog! You guys are an awesome inspiration and reminder of why I am working my butt off right now. I also enlisted in the MTNG when I lived in Missoula, in a male dominated field (mechanic), and now I am in Oregon, in the Reserves instead, an officer (went ROTC at UM), and am now getting my masters in Education, and an endorsement in special education. Luckily I have the GI Bill now to cover some costs, but I’m still racking up student loans to live off! Going into the public sector gives me the opportunity to get loan forgiveness though, and I’m feeling pretty good about being able to move back to the place that has had my heart since I first saw it in 2003…Missoula, Montana., and continuing my path to a more self sufficient life.
    I’m excited to keep reading about your journey, and good luck in AIT…give the guys a run for their money, we are JUST as capable at kicking ass!

    1. Hey Shannon! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments! We (meaning Missoula, Montana, and ourselves) will welcome you back with open arms when you decide to return. I graduate from AIT on Friday and am in the top 3 of my class (hopefully will have the highest GPA by Wednesday)! And you’re right, it’s been a really eye-opening experience to participate in a male-dominated field and to succeed so easily. I would have NEVER considered doing construction until we started this business and it made practical sense. I may also begin OCS in March, so…if you keep reading our blog, you can always throw me a word of encouragement, because I’m nervous!! Take care!

  3. How funny that I (a MIIS Policy graduate from small town, Montana) would find this post well doing research on refurbishing the Loweth Substation #2.
    All the best,

    1. You know what? As it turns out this was the best degree Erin could have gotten, she has a great job as the Antiterrorism Program Coordinator over in Helena right now! Did you guys go to school together?

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