Karate. Dance. Engineering. Bodybuilding. Powerlifting. Functional Fitness. Olympic Lifting.
It would appear that everything I did for enjoyment was actually quite difficult. Was it the activity or was it me?
Throughout my turbulent childhood, I learned so many valuable lessons from my mother. She and my father were wise beyond their years. My mother always encouraged me to reach for the stars and to not settle for mediocrity. “Choose the hardest thing first. If you succeed, imagine how fantastic you will feel. If you fail, at least you tried, which is more than what most can say.” This mentality really stuck with me, all my life… even up to this present moment. Even things that were incredibly hard and scary… like Engineering school, like competing in National Level bodybuilding shows, like singing in front of my new coworkers at a staff meeting (I was dared by the Manager). I still did them!
I have learned over time that strong people typically are not born that way. They become strong through overcoming adversity, beating the odds, having tenacity to keep fighting for something they feel passionate about, and being disciplined enough to say no to the current situation in an effort to hold out for the future situation being developed/manifested.
In college, I cried every single day. I was homesick. I missed my baby brother the most… and I felt incredibly isolated. I had a mental timeline established. Graduate college in 4 years, find a job, find an apartment, start to enjoy my independence, pay back loans, and maybe have some fun. I really suffered through college, but I made a deal with myself that until I received a “D” in a class, I would stick it out. I went from graduating very close to the top of my high school class to having a mediocre average. Most of my college classmates were the cream of the crop when they were in high school also. Competition was fierce and the course material did not come to me easily.
I stuck with my major out of fear of being looked at as a failure. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, most importantly myself. I had something to prove. Looking back, I wish I had someone tell me it was ok for me to change my mind and that change is not failure. I was so worried about graduating in 4 years, I could feel the pressure pinning me down, pushing from my shoulders down down down into the ground… I was about to buckle.
I am very proud to say that I did graduate on time. 1 out of 4 women in the Mechanical Engineering program in the Binghamton University Class of 2000. That’s right… the year of the infamous Millenium Bug. We had two ceremonies over the course of a weekend. The first event was a smaller recognition ceremony. My name was called and I got to wear a beautiful pink and yellow flowered dress. The second event was a massive extravaganza of hundreds of people in the downtown arena. I wore my cap and gown and took so many silly photos with classmates… some of whom I have not seen since.
I remember leaving campus. I remember feeling scared. I remember feeling proud. I remember thinking, “Now what?”… and I remember hearing my mom’s voice in my ear…
Choose the hardest thing first.