****This blog is no longer updated at this address! Come check it out at http://thinkandgrowchick.com. All of the archives are available there as well****

This site is my online journal that documents my attempts to reach various goals inspired by the principles found in the book, Think and Grow Rich. Join me as I strive to meet financial goals, fashion goals, school goals, hair-care goals, and everything in between. I hope that other young women will relate and find my journey useful to read about; this blog is for me as much as it is for women seeking resources for personal development and freedom. To get a daily dose, follow me on twitter and facebook...and don't forget to follow my blog!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Never Say What You Can't Do

I cried harder as she continued on her lecture. Even though her voice was rising, between my sobs and my hands uncontrollably shaking the earpiece, I was struggling to hear what she was saying.

"Courtney, we are not built to break. You are stronger than this! So what, you've got to take a little detour. So? God is teaching you a lesson right now! Take this time to get your act together, then get your a** back in school! I know it seems like a lot of money—hell, that's a lot of money for me and I have a full-time job. But this is not insurmountable. If you work hard for the next 6 months and save everything—and I mean it Courtney, you better save everything—you can pay that off. I don't mean to sound like I'm not sympathetic to your situation because I am, but right now, you need tough love to get you out of this. You think this is tough?? You have it made, Courtney. There are women leaving abusive husbands, struggling to get that degree while living in homeless shelters. Heck, you think it was easy for me trying to get through grad school with two small daughters? Why do you think I'd always invite those young girls over to study at our house, hmm? It was because I couldn't afford childcare!!! I would feed them and they would come over and study with me so I could watch you and your sister! It is not a game, sweetie, but there are worst things in life. You can do this. So have a good cry, splash some cold water on your face, call your boyfriend, make some tea, draft up a plan, and get down to business."

"Do you understand?"

"Yes," I replied to my mother as I sniffed hard and hung up the phone. I was so angry but she was so right. I had gotten myself into this, but I could definitely get myself out of this if I was willing to put in the work.

Deep down, however, I knew the tears came less from the unfair charge I was being forced to pay and more from realizing for the first time where I really am in life. I cried hard a few days ago because for the first time, I really felt like I was at the bottom. To be perfectly honest, I am.

At 21 years old, I am unenrolled from college, I owe $3,350 in charges from Howard University, and I cannot transfer to another school until I pay the debt off because there is now a hold on my transcripts. In addition to all of that, I'm currently on a strict repayment plan with my credit card company because I owe $4,687.46 and almost 80% of that amount has to be paid in 12 months or else I get slammed with an outrageous interest rate. To say this is not the life I envisioned for myself is an understatement.

When I first came to Howard, I was a bright and shiny, scholarship having, 3.8 GPA achieving, chemical engineering student. "I'll never leave Howard," I adamantly told my parents on one of their first visits. "This is the dorm where all the scholarship girls stay," I continued. "I'll never stay in that other dorm."

Fast forward to my sophomore year when waking up to go to class literally sent me into panic attacks. I had long discovered that I was not really interested in engineering and that I was just doing it because it was "impressive", but I was too scared to do anything else because I didn't want to let anyone down. My grades were reflecting my lack of interest as I was struggling to hold on to a 2.5 GPA and my scholarship was a thing of the past.

Since I'm the type of person who likes to fix things before anyone notices that things are going wrong, I applied for my first credit card, hoping I could build up some credit before the school year ended so that I could take out a private loan to finance the rest of my education without getting my parents involved. As God would have it, the economy tanked right at the end of that year, simultaneously forcing Sallie Mae to raise the credit score required for school loans and leaving me up the creek without a paddle.

By my Junior year, I knew I had to get out of engineering before I graduated with a worthless GPA. I had since discovered my love and aptitude for Business, but the School of Business at Howard refused to accept me without a 3.0 GPA. Factor in the Parent Plus Loan my dad had taken out for me without knowing the extent of my academic and financial predicament, and you'll understand why I felt like my only option left was to crawl under a rock and die. Embarrassed and scared because my back was up against the wall, I broke down during a routine phone call with my dad and I told him everything.

I was so surprised at how supportive my dad was that I felt bad for not telling him sooner. Through my tears and much needed prayer, my dad agreed that it would be best if I withdrew from Howard and transfered to a less expensive university that would accept me into their business program before I wasted anymore time and money. Thinking the worst of my situation was over, I withdrew from all of my engineering classes and made the arrangements to enroll in the spring semester at the city university across town, given that I could take advantage of their lower, in-state tuition rates.

Everything seemed brighter at that point. I was laughing again, smiling again, and overall I was feeling more like myself. I was excited to be spending less money on a new major that I knew I would truly love and I couldn't wait to get started. The world seemed to be turning up roses until my new school told me Howard would not release my transcripts. I ventured to the financial aid department to find out why and BAM! Because I withdrew before the semester ended, Howard had returned all of my federal loans that were previously covering my tuition, unbeknownst to me, leaving me with a balance of $3,350. My heart sank—I would not be able to transfer to any school until the amount was paid in full.

I have been M.I.A. on this blog not just because all of this is happening (though it certainly has taken a lot of my mental energy) but because in order to stay true to the mission I had when I first started this blog, I knew I'd be a complete fraud if I continued blogging without addressing my situation on here. How on earth can I spread that message of "Think and Grow Chicks can achieve any goal!" and not put the spotlight on myself? If I truly believe my own mission, then I have to be this blog's resident example of making all of your dreams come true...even if everything seems to be going wrong.

So take heart, my beloved readers, I'm going to be fine and if you're going through anything right now, you're going to be fine too. With a little hard work and a whole lotta prayer, I know I can still achieve everything I've ever dreamed of doing. I will be back in school in 6 months, I will pay off all of my debt in a year, I will graduate as a high achieving business major, and I will be a raging success. Period. So if you forgive me for taking a leave of absence over the last few weeks and you believe in this blog, this mission, and the fact that you truly can accomplish any goals as a Think and Grow Chick, then I invite you to continue to follow my journey.

If you have a "comeback" story to share related to any topic or goal, feel free to leave your comments below or email me at thinkandgrowchick [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. I'm a new reader on your blog. I'm also a little older than you at 36 and I have had several comeback stories in my own life. In fact I'm in the middle of one now. :) Your post struck a chord with me because just a few days ago I had a similar conversation with my own mother. Different words but same sentiment.

    This is not insurmontable. Life has many highs and lows and if you commit yourself to getting through this...you will. The past two years for me have been a little hectic too but I'm putting my plans in motion and sometimes I've revised those plans too. Have faith in yourself, have faith in a higher power, trust and you will get there.

    Best of luck to you!

  2. I love the attitude you have despite your current circumstances. Hard work PLUS a lot of prayer is definitely the key. I have come to not take those factors for granted, in addition to the loving, supportive family and friends I have in my life. I thought my engineering grad school dreams were dashed when I took the GRE and got NOWHERE NEAR a math score that ANY top-notch school would even consider satisfactory, let alone an engineering school PERIOD. WIth the support of my family, friends and a miracle from GOD, I was able to take the test again RIGHT BEFORE my applications were due and was blessed with the scores the schools I applied to were interested in seeing. I feel like there are varying degrees of "setbacks" in different points of our lives, but its how we deal them that really set the course of our ensuing future. Keep your head up chica and know that I'm praying for you!


  3. I'm going through something similar with money right now. I learned a hard lesson about spending more than I can afford, and now with the help of my mother and her tough love, she's helping me learn how to handle my money more responsibly. I'm 21 as well, so luckily this is a lesson I didn't have to learn late in life.
    I think these speed bumps that sometimes feel like complete and utter roadblocks really keep us grounded, and aware of our circumstances so that in the future when there is more at stake, we know exactly what to do, when to speak up, and how to handle ourselves.
    I believe that with prayer, faith in God and of course yourself, you will be fine. You don't strike me as someone who will take this and let it defeat her, so good luck. :)

  4. I am new to your blog, but very much affected by your story. My heart goes out to you and I am excited about your determination and honor your vulnerability.

    I graduated highschool top of my class, accepted into a tough dual degree program at the School of Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. I had previously had "the college" talk with my parents and we came to an agreement of financial responsibility. A week before leaving for school, my Father took away the Parent Plus Loan he offered. He said Art was a waste of time and that he did not support my decision.

    I was stuck in Colorado -flipping burgers at Burger King. This was such a sad time for me. In the following year I figured out what was important to me and made a decision to enroll at UNLV - not as prestigious, but affordable. I graduated with my Bachelors in Art and because of UNLV, I'm now at a very well respected school for my Masters in Art Therapy. :)

    My setback was actually quite the Blessing :) I imagine yours will look that way too.

  5. Trust me, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I went to American University last year and with ONE year left, my finances become overbearing and I was no longer eligible for a private loan from Sallie Mae... the biggest kicker was that I was having troubles at home and I couldn't juggle as many classes that I had so I withdrew from 2 of them. My financial aid was taken away and I cannot go back to ANY school until I pay American back. And people in DC know all too well that American is EXPENSIVE. I'm looking at owing $20,000... yea, FML. But I'm not even stressing over it anymore.

    This is my first time at your blog but it really broke my heart because I can understand how you feel, but always know, you're not alone and there's always someone who probably has it worse than you (me lol). If you think about it, it's not really that much money... you just have to work hard for it because it seems you're really determined to finish school... we all are.

    My prayers are with you!

  6. Hi there, I'm a new reader since yesterday (read through all your archives) really great info on here. I can totally feel your pain, I'm currently feeling like I'm stuck in a rut. I want to go to grad Business School, but I took the GMAT in July and did so horribly I cried that whole weekend, feeling embarrased and ashamed. I have yet to retake it but yet I want to start school in the Spring, not to mention I am married with a 3 yr old and want to start by own business. Like you I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I have a BS in Finance but no longer want to work in Corporate America...I could go on and on but ultimately I totally feel you...I feel the same way you do in certain respects. I wish you well.

  7. This is my first time reading your blog. I don't know you but I want to tell you, that you can make it. I spent my teenage years in foster care and was able to make it into Cornell University. Despite family and money problems I graduated on time!! I came to DC and worked fulltime while pursuing my Masters at GWU during that time 9-11 hit the country, I had to repay $3,000 worth of loans to Cornell. I had an infection that left me in the ER and eventually lead to me having surgery. I had to take a leave of absence for 2 sememsters from GWU because of a $4,000 loan balance (which I was paying because a lady in financial aid was allowing me to stay enrolled as long as I made payments but unfortunately they changed the system and I wasn't able to enroll and had to go on leave of absence). Yet in Jan 05 I graduated with my Masters. I'm not living the life of luxury but I have good job and a bright future. Faith in God brought me through and he'll bring you through. He didn't bring you this far to drop you. Feel free to e-mail me if you needs some encouragement/help/a ride to store what ever. dfarr@gwu.edu

  8. Thank you everyone for your comments. Seriously, you guys made my WEEK! I was so down when all of this happened, but between getting it off my chest and receiving some great feedback, I feel much better. I'm so happy to have inspired anyone who is going through stuff to be open about their situation. Getting over the shame of making mistakes is generally the first step to fixing them! Thanks so much guys, you all are wonderful!

  9. Hello Think & Grow,

    I stumbled across your blog while on naturalchica.com. In regards to your financial situation and paying off cc's, I am currently there and when I tell you that letting go and letting God works, it does! Sweety I was served papers because of my credit card debt and when I called the law office to work things out, I was sobbing on the phone with the lady. Little did I know she was my Angel in disguise. No, I wasn't able to meet the offer that they had out on the table but she immediately consoled me and told me everything was going to be okay. She had me take down her number as a direct contact if I ran into any financial hardship and couldn't make payments. When it was time for her to release my case, she called me directly seeing if I was able to make a settlement deal. I wasn't. I will be done paying this debt off in May and I will be throwing a party of financial freedom. No, its not my only debt, but its a big accomplishment to pay off something that threatening. I've had two stories such as the one about and the representatives are ALWAYS willing to try and help me out. We hear the horror stories of creditors being nasty and this is the case sometimes, but I've been blessed to have those "creditors" be my angels. I saw all of these to say that if you leave everything up to God (as I did and it was HARD to not worry) it will work itself out. Yes, I still have to pay off this debt and much more, but my eyes have been opened to what it really means to be working towards financial freedom!

    God Bless,

  10. @V-Natural Me: Thank you for sharing your story! That's truly amazing that those people looked out for you like that. I always say that there is no such this as a "self-made" person because of stories like yours—God is ALWAYS on the other end moving things around for our good. Keeping the faith IS hard sometimes, but it feels great when you get blessed because of it. Thank you for your supprt and let me know when you throw that financial freedom party! That is a great idea ;-)

  11. I sure will and THANKS for the Twitter follow!

  12. I know this is late but you are correct. This life we have is a journey and is definitely not something we can plan exactly out. I went to howard univ and graduated in chemistry thinking I was heading straight to med school. A couple years later I had done everything from teaching middle school, waitressing in coffee shops, answering phones for companies to waitressing on the boats in DC. LOL. I went to pg county cc, got some additional classes, went to grad school and am doing what I LOVE, medicine, but as a PA. I would have never thought my life would have come down this path but I had to play it by ear and it worked out perfectly. And you know what? No one cares where I went to undergrad. The most important thing is enjoying the journey and being happy where you end up. Best of luck in 2010.

  13. I know I'm a month late, but I had to leave a comment for you. I am 23 yrs old, and I too went to a private university. Two years and three majors later, the tuition was becoming overbearing and I was becoming unhappy. So I left.

    I came back home to NYC and started my life clean slate. Four years later, I am very successful in the new field I chose for myself and graduating at the end of the semester!

    When I was leaving my first school I cried and cried, clawed and clawed, but you know what...the Lord works in mysterious ways! You may not see it now, but this may very well be a blessing in disguise. Maybe during your time off, an awesome opportunity may present itself. Maybe you'll find your life's true calling. Whatever it may be, He wont bring you to it unless He can bring you through it. So keep that pretty head of yours to the sky and just allow Him to guide you. You'll be okay!

  14. i see that all this has improved at this point, but I'm actually glad that you posted your story here because it also gives me confirmation. I was not in a similar boat, but I had a similar burden - trying to complete my grad school thesis after having a baby, with a part-time job and only part-time childcare. It was crazy and I too was depressed, but with prayer and God and many late nights awake working on my data, I can say that the end goal is in sight and I will be finished by May 30th, God willing. I will be adding you to my rss feed and thank you so much for all your cool tips!!