I grew up as one might imagine the youngest and only girl in a sports-oriented family would: a tomboy who had a never-ending supply of used boys’ clothes, a competitive nature, and a healthy imagination. Role models (both of what to do, and what not to do) were in ample supply. My parents both worked full-time and gave my brothers and me the greatest childhood of which any kid would be jealous. We never had any idea of the financial struggles they dealt with as my father took a risk on starting his own business with no safety net but with a wife, young kids, and a mortgage to support. Although we grew up working-class and didn’t have name-brand … anything, we had our parents’ devotion, dedication, and support. We could do anything we could put our minds to. And I was told no differently because I was a girl.
Even though I was a girl, it wasn’t an exclusionary part of my identity. It was a formative part of my personality (and why I lost all the backyard fights), but never brought up as a weakness. My being a girl – and woman – was never to be used as an excuse for cowardice or timidity or to be a crutch for self-pity. That mindset got me through college, the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School, the Marines, and professional life. It’s true there have been many challenges along the way and perhaps being a woman has made some aspects of the journey more difficult, but to have resolve and determination beat into my mind (more or less a consequence of those fistfights with my brothers) makes the challenge more worthy of pursuit.More