I Wanted to be the First

Ever since I was little, I always had a dream about being first. Not just first place, but the first female in history to accomplish something amazing.

In school when I learned about astronauts, I decided that I would work hard to become the first female astronaut. But the space program accepted its first female astronaut, a teacher named Sally Ride. My dreams of being the first were crushed by the time I was in third grade.

Then I decided I wanted to be the first female supreme court judge. And then along comes Sandra Day O’Connor to ruin those dreams.

If I had stayed true to my roots, I possibly could have found my place in history as the first female “something.” Both my parents were racers. Mom raced go-carts. Dad moved from motorcycles to go-carts to super-modifieds to stock cars. I could have potentially been the first female NASCAR driver had I followed through and followed the footsteps of my parental influence.

But my journey was one of firsts I didn’t anticipate. Instead of some grand place in a history book, my “firsts” have been family firsts.

None of my grandparents or parents had a four-year college degree. I was the first to accomplish earning a bachelor’s degree.

When I was born, I made five generations (barely missing both sides of the family by a few months). I was the first to have their firstborn after the age of 25 (I was 31).

I was the first in the family to give birth to a child with special needs.

I have been the first in my family to testify in front of legislators to advocate for those without a voice.

And I am the the first in my family to adopt a child.

If I look at my life through a negative lens, I would see a lot of things I never would have wished for or asked for (with the exception of earning my degree). But life doesn’t happen TO you … it’s WHAT YOU DO with what happens to you. It’s choosing to find purpose in your journey. I’ve come to learn that we are not promised an easy life, but a life of purpose.

I could choose to lay in bed every day and feel sorry for myself about all the bad things that have happened to me. But I choose to see my life through a positive lens. I choose to use my big mouth for good. I choose to overcome the difficulties in life and move on to the next chapter. I hope my next first will be just as wonderful to celebrate.

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