or coached softball I always tried to find the positive. If you strike out, that’s three more pitches you looked at to take a better approach your next bat, if you made an error, one of your teammates will pick you up. This same attitude I use towards difficult choices and it has helped me overcome the challenges and consequences I have faced.

When reflecting on my life thus far and the choices I have made, I look back to when I was a child; defying the social norms from as early as the age of 5. Young girls always carried dolls around with them or wanted to play dress-up, while boys would always play with cars and trucks or for whatever reason jump in mud piles. For me, I never wanted to play with barbies or take care of a baby-doll; instead, I wanted to run a restaurant with my toy-kitchen or show my grandpa how many shots I could make in the basketball hoop outback. Society would put labels on children like me; “oh she’s just in a tomboy phase, she’ll grow out of this” or “one day she’ll be more ladylike.” But the truth is these weren’t phases or something to grow out of, they were my choices. I chose to not play with dolls; I chose to play sports instead of participate in dance class. The consequences resulted in always being different, constantly battling my mother about not wanting to wear a dress, and having a label tattooed on me from society. However, what I have come to realize is these choices and how I handled the reaction from other people helped define me and guided me in overcoming each challenge that I deemed a failure.

“The harder you work, the bigger the reward” is a phrase my father would typically add in to one of his inspirational speeches to my brother and I. I have found throughout all of my life choices, I have kept this mantra in the back of my mind. No matter the consequences, if I worked hard enough the risk would be worth the choice. Last year, I left a full-time job with benefits, to pursue my Master’s Degree and an opportunity to work as a graduate assistant in a Division II athletic department. Although some people could not understand why I would make this move, this choice was similar to all of my life choices. I have no fear of defying the norms; I am ok making a life choice like this while embracing the consequences of being almost 30 years old without a full-time job and lack of a substantial income or security. What I have found through all this is you can calculate all of your choices, analyze the data, and make an informed decision, but in the end it is how you respond to the consequences that matters the most.