Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles in the Humans of Wausau series, which is funded in part through a grant from the B. A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation. Follow the Humans of Wausau Facebook page here.
By Kelli Oligney for Wausau Pilot and Review
Age: 20, of Wausau
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Chicago, Illinois.
What made your transition occur from Chicago to Wausau?
There were several conflicts between my mom and all her children; not just me and when I was 16 she eventually kicked me out.
So, when you moved here, did you come to live with anyone?
My family. I have family that lives here.
How long did you live with them?
Until 17 and since then I have been by myself or with roommates.
What has made you stay in Wausau?
It’s a nice place to settle. I don’t fear violence here or being unable to get a job here. It’s easy to find a place to live and get a steady job and live without having too many worries.
What was one of your hardest ages growing up and why?
Probably 15 because I hadn’t been in school from 12 to 16. The 15 age range is when everyone is in high school and they’re making friends and having a great time; I wasn’t doing that. I was pretty much alone in my home with my brother and my mom.
Were you getting home schooled?
Yes, but not really. I was definitely lacking in education so I was at a really low point at that age and my mom was getting worse in her mental illnesses. It wasn’t a fun time.
Do you still talk to your mom at all?
No, I talked to her about a year ago at my aunt’s funeral. It was a lot for me then and I don’t really have a reason to.
What did you learn about yourself from not being in school and experiencing the same things as people your age?
That I’m interested in education. A lot of people in my age group or where I’m from, lose their sense of wanting to be in school or caring about education, but I realized I still want that and now I know it’s a goal I plan on achieving.
If you had to give advice to anyone, what would it be?
A big thing I personally struggle with to this day, but I’ve gotten better is sticking up for yourself. At one point, I never said anything. Whatever happened, it was fine, but then I went to a point where it was too much. It’s about finding a nice medium of being able to stand up for yourself without being a bully yourself.
What’s your favorite quote and why?
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I hit a lot of walls and step stones when I’m trying my absolute hardest to achieve goals, but I know that I have to stay positive because the success will come.
What motivates you each day?
Eventually, getting to that point in life where I’m very proud of what I do. Where I can work towards a goal comfortably and go to a job where I am making food everyday.
What is a moment that has changed you as a person?
I have tried to commit suicide before and one time, I really tried. I cut the long way and I was ready. I had two friends come over and I didn’t invite them over; I didn’t tell anybody what was going on and I believed this is what I wanted to do. I couldn’t go through with it so I knew that it wasn’t someone else stopping me and wasn’t my plans being harbored; it was something I didn’t want to do. I made the decision within myself that it wasn’t what I actually wanted and I had to work away from it. Since then, I’ve been dealing with it everyday, but I work with it myself and didn’t need anyone to help me and was something I overcame and am dealing with myself. I haven’t thought about doing it since
Was that awhile ago?
It was last year, September. The aunt that I moved here to live with, passed away and someone I was dealing with had problems and there was a lot at once. I failed out of one of my last semesters in college and I was struggling.
I am very happy that you are still with us. You deserve to live.
What do you do for a living and how did you decide that’s what you wanted to do?
My current job is managing at Panera, but it’s not exactly what I want to do for a living; I want to be a chef. For awhile, I was working at City Grill, but I stopped working there and am now just focusing on providing for myself more than doing what I want to do.
With that, what would your ideal job that you’d have look like?
My ideal goal would be an Executive Chef in a larger city. There’s more innovation and creativity. In a larger city, there’s something new every day and every year.
Do you have a certain city in mind?
Not really. I’ve been battling that idea because I don’t necessarily want to go back to Chicago because there’s a lot happening in that city, but some place bigger than Wausau. I want to be somewhere I can learn while doing it and not doing the same things and trying to please the same group of people.
What’s your favorite memory of living here?
I think it was getting my job at City Grill. I absolutely loved the food. My favorite day was when I was moved to sautée and I got to make features and I loved it. I still have all the pictures and it was a great experience as something I loved to do. Emotionally, I wish I can get myself back into a kitchen and feel like that again.
What are positives and negatives associated with the restaurant industry?
The positives are that I can be creative and genuinely be myself and put it on a plate and be happy with it and receive great feedback. However, there’s a lot of steps with being in a kitchen. It’s more of a male-dominated field and a lot of different personalities and arrogance – it’s a lot with a Chef personality. It’s hard for me to adapt to people like that because of how passive I am.
What is something you are looking forward to?
The only two things I want recently, in this life, is to be a chef and have a baby. That’s all I want and for a long time I did not want children. I was like, “Nope! Not for me!” Now, it’s all I want and now I cherish that day and hope that it happens for me. That’s all I can do and try to keep as positive as I can.
What’s a hidden talent of yours?
I somewhat can sing, but I don’t like to. When I sing around other people, I purposely make it bad so even if it is bad, they can’t say anything and they think I’m joking.