Go to Rehab – Become a Graphic Designer?

By Kendl Ferencz

Starting college right after you graduate high school is generally anxiety producing and nerve racking. It involves scheduling classes, buying books, getting a school ID, finding your way around campus and meeting new people.

Its been 6 years since I graduated high school, and the vast majority of those 6 years have been spent either loaded or in a rehabilitation center. When I was 18 I had a scholarship to an art school in Philadelphia, but because of my drug addiction I decided I would much rather live in a car than in a dorm room. It is one of my biggest regrets and every time I would bring it up at any one of the many rehabs I’ve resided in, I would get the “but you have life experience that no one else has” speech. While I nodded my head in agreement, I would be thinking, “I would rather have a college degree.”

During the past 6 years I would tell my parents, my counselors and when I happened to be on a run, my loaded friends that I was intending on starting school when a new semester started. This would happen literally every Fall, Spring, Summer and Winter semester for years. I would never actually enroll. I am tremendously good at making plans in my head, yet never really putting forth the action to make them a reality. I am sometimes under the impression that if I think about them enough, they will just spontaneously happen for me. I’ve recently learned that is not the case.

For once in my life I put in the work to accomplish something I have been thinking about doing for an inordinate amount of time. It all started when I got the opportunity to intern with John Sullivan at BTS Communications doing graphic design, which is what I originally had gotten a scholarship to art school for when I was 18 and ruined with my bright ideas and massive drug addiction. I proceeded to tell him the same sob story I had been telling everyone else for years, except he didn’t give me the life experience speech. He told me I should go to school. He had me sign up for the Fall semester at Santa Monica College‘s Academy of Entertainment and Technology.

Upon realizing that basically every class that the college offered was already full, I went back to John expecting him to tell me I could always go next semester, which meant I could avoid responsibility for a little bit longer and get a pat on the back for trying. I was wrong. Instead I was told to make a list of the classes I was going to take, and try and crash them on the first day. Thankfully I didn’t have to crash, I ended up staying up late one night to see if any classes opened up when the school drops students who have enrolled but have not paid. I got every class I wanted.

The toughest part was showing up the first day. I convinced myself the night before that I wouldn’t be able to find my class and even if I did I would be late, and because I would be late the professor would immediately hate and judge me, then my life would be over. In the morning upon discovering that traffic was a nightmare, my head started going in the same direction, telling me there was no possible way that I could ever make it on time and that all my fears were about to come true. Instead of giving up like I generally do, I decided that I had come too far this time. I at least had to make it to the school.

Not only did I make it to the school, but I also found my class on time. No one was judging me, and the professor didn’t hate me. It doesn’t seem like much, but this entire thing involved walking through immense amounts of fear for me. I had to be in action instead of at a standstill. I had to continue taking direction instead of turning and walking away, direction that I wouldn’t have gotten if it wasn’t for the internship that Beit T’Shuvah gave me. It was a life lesson for me; I finally showed myself that I could do something instead of just wishing it into a reality, and now that I’m finally in school no one has to listen to me talk about doing it anymore.

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14 Responses to "Go to Rehab – Become a Graphic Designer?"

  1. Barbara says:

    awesome story kendl – keep up the good work!

  2. Rabbi Mark says:

    Great Story, glad you took the leap into the water. It only gets better from here. Glad you are on our team.

  3. Harim says:

    Could totally relate, learning the same lesson, thanks for sharing.

  4. Lori Messer says:

    Kendl, this literally brought tears to my eyes. This is your story and Rabbi Mark is sooo right. It only gets better from here. You are very loved. I am so proud of you.

  5. Arlene Dyne says:

    what a real life story…. I’m sure everyone is sooo proud of you, BUT, most important, I could hear in your story, just how proud you are of yourself, and so you should be. From here, you will go from strength to strength, and come away with the diploma that is meant to be yours.

  6. Rachel says:

    So proud of you kendl!!!

  7. Sandra Braun says:

    Wow, Kendl. You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your victory over fear. Mazal tov and best of luck and much blessings with your studies and your creative process.

  8. Liana says:

    I am very proud of you Kendl! What a huge accomplishment!
    It was clear by what you wrote that overcoming your fears about what might happen (the stories you had told yourself), and proving yourself wrong by taking action towards your own personal goal, opened so many doors; and I am not just talking about school.

  9. Kathleen Ferencz says:

    I am so proud of you Kendl! You just opened a whole new world by taking that one step!! You also wrote an amazing article!! Love you!

  10. Trisha Spahr says:

    Hey Kendal,
    Great story I am so proud of you!!!! Keep up the good work, one day at a time……Love ya xox

  11. april aubery says:

    What is most important here is that you have learned a lesson for life. To push through anxiety, fear and self doubt to reward. I am very proud of you, thanks for sharing.

  12. Bob says:

    Inspiring! I’m am so glad to see you turn your life around. It gives me hope that the rest of our extended family can pull themselves up from the abyss.

  13. Fleur Schim says:

    Wonderful life lesson!

  14. Stephanie Smith says:

    Kendl, I love everything about what you wrote here. I can relate to so much of what you said here its scary. I am the same way when it comes to procrastination. The part where you were expecting John to tell you to wait until next semester, when the traffic was terrible and especially the part about being late to class due to getting lost. I have always done the same thing in my addiction and now that I am sober I am learning to walk through my fears head on too. I find that once I get over myself and the false feelings I am having, I am able to enjoy the moment so much that I can’t wait to do it all over again. You are an inspiration to me Kendl and I am so happy I get the pleasure of working with you, John and the rest of the team at BTS Communications.

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