When I was about 4 years old, I remember my mom loved deciding what I was going to wear and how she wanted to do my hair. I was her only daughter and she wanted to dress me up and always put my hair in those little fountain ponies on top of my head. I remember my favorite grandma bought me my very own Barbie vanity set and I fell in love. At the age of 5, I told my mom that I wanted to do my hair myself and that’s exactly what I did. Within a few months, I learned to French braid my own hair. I was so excited! I still know people nowadays who have no idea how do it, so I was pretty impressed by myself for learning quickly. It was that burning desire I STILL remember feeling at age 5 years old, which began to lead me through my life journey.
In elementary school, I remember my parents talking to me about what type of activities and sports to start becoming engaged in. My mom always had the dream of her daughter becoming a successful cheerleader. Well, I never liked cheerleading. I even tried to make my mom happy by trying it for a few weeks and I just remember never being entirely happy. Yeah it was cool flying and jumping and cheering on the cute football players, which one of them happen to be my next door neighbor who I grew up with from diapers. But something about it made me feel “fake”. I never felt comfortable chanting and pretending like I cared so much. Then, when I was in third grade, my dad suggested I should try out for the basketball team. Well, once I stepped on the court and started drippling the basketball, I knew I was hooked. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, ever since I was little. Becoming a basketball player was probably one of the greatest decisions I ever made. The feeling of stepping out on the court at the start of the game, fans cheering you on in the blenchers, gave me the greatest confidence high I ever experienced. I wish everybody could feel that.
In addition to starting basketball so young, I also was a talented bowling star beginning at the age of 6. My grandma and my dad got me involved with bowling. My grandma used to bowl for fun in a week night bowling league and so did my dad. As I sit here typing this, I don’t really remember the first time I picked up a bowling ball. But, I knew I loved it because it was the only thing I truly put my entire focus on. It was a different kind of high, compared to basketball. Whenever I was bowling, it was me against me. I knew I had to focus in order to improve my score and keep moving higher in the tournaments. I focused and concentrated so much that it lead me to being third in the nation for my age group one year. My highest game was a 288, missed the 300 by a spare. I took home tons and tons of trophies. It was that burning desire I felt inside that I needed to do better, to be better.
Fast forward to high school, the “greatest four years of your life”, yeah right my ass. High school was shitty. I don’t care who you talk to, the most popular quarter back of the football team or the star of the drama club, high school was not the greatest four years you’ll ever experience. I don’t understand why it sucks so much, other than the only thing I can think of is that kids are still evolving, still growing up, still maturing. Who knows, all I know is that I was not a fan. Everybody wanted to one up the other. If you weren’t part of the “popular group” you were a nobody. I never really seemed to care though. I always did my own thing and never stuck to a specific group of people. I had a couple of close friends who I would always hung out with, and that’s all I needed. I am happy to say that two of them are still my super close friends up until this day (10+ years of friendship). High school was what began to tear me down. Basketball became very political and it was all about which players’ parent could suck up to the coach and make sure their kid always started. It didn’t feel right, I started losing the love and fun of the game and I decided to quit. Bowling was what I was extremely talented in and loved, and kids in my school began to make fun of me. I took it to heart and it made me hate practicing and going to tournaments because it wasn’t “cool”, so I quit that too. As I sit here and actually type that out, read it to myself and actually admit to myself why I quit, I get very upset with myself. I don’t know why I listened to those awful negative voices. I don’t know why I ever thought they could dictate who I am and what I can become. I especially have no idea why I ever listened and believed them. However, that strong desire I felt in my bones still burned.
So we reached the end of high school, applied for colleges and all that fun stuff. I remember hearing negative degrading voices from fellow classmates telling me how I was not smart enough and I would never make it through college. Deep down I always knew I wanted to go to school in the Pittsburgh area and I was not going to let those voices stop me. That’s exactly what I did, I graduated high school and took off to Pittsburgh. That’s when I started to build myself back up. I had a burning desire to keep moving forward, and even though it was a little scary moving 5 hours away from my family for the first time, it was another great confidence high.
Now college was my favorite four years of my life. It changed my whole outlook on people. You make friends and connect with them on a greater level. These people were the ones you would spend the next four or five years with. These people were the ones who helped you become a better version of yourself. You were always around these people. I always chose to be with the motivated, determined, ambitious ones. That’s exactly what helped me level up myself and better myself. I started believing more in myself again, I had the best supportive friends a girl could ask for going through college. I had mentors who I could turn to when I needed help or even advice. I also had the best party friends, no regrets! I learned that my burning desire inside me, grew and grew with the more support and encouragement I had. At the end of my college career, I had to pursue an internship. I always knew I wanted to go to Florida after I graduated college. That’s exactly what I did. I scored an amazing internship at a one of the best hospitals in Florida and I packed up my car with whatever would fit. I said another goodbye to my parents, this time a little more difficult being 18 hours away, instead of 5 and off I went, all by myself. It was that burning desire I felt in my bones that this was what I needed to do, in order to better myself. Even though it was scarier than heading off to college, it was another magnificent confidence high.
My internship was the greatest experience of my life. It was real world work mixed in with the safety of school. I was exposed to the best experiences of my life, one of them being a 6 hour open heart surgery. I believed this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Then again, I was fresh about to be out of college, recent graduate. I figured this was what I would have to do since it’s what I went to school for, right? I was offered the job, strung along for months and months. In the end, I was kicked in the teeth because the one employee returned from the military and legally, they had to keep their job. There was no room left for me. I was devastated. Completely, utterly devastated. What was I suppose to do now?? I had no idea what I would want to go back to school for. I turned down other jobs from different states because this was all I hoped and dreamed of. My family would be moving down, I wasn’t about to pick up and leave again. I felt stuck. I spiraled into a depression, feeling like a failure. All the negative voices from high school rushed back into my head. I was alone. I had no family, no friends around to pick me back up. It was all on me. I had to level up again, all by myself. Do you know how difficult it is to be completely alone and try to be your one and only support system while battling with inner past demons? It’s definitely not easy. I trusted my burning desire. It took time, lots and lots of time. But I never gave up. I wasn’t going to move back to my hometown just because my job offer fell through. I loved my new home, I moved on from my original hometown. I stayed positive. I fought through, little by little I became stronger.
That was the first time where I felt like I had no direction for my life. My burning desire that grew and grew from my positive and motivated support systems help lead me through my life up until college. I knew in my bones that I would graduate from high school in my hometown, continue my education to the Pittsburgh area then once I graduated college, I knew I would move to Florida. After college is when you realize, “oh shit, now what?” You realize that the real world is nothing like college. But that’s ok. I am here to tell you, never ever give up on your burning desires. It will only make you stronger in order to become a better you. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Even if you switch flames and its not what you’re used to, believe in it. Go for it. Don’t ever give up on yourself.