by Andre’a D. Jackson
IBM Client Value Manager, North America
You played a great game today even though the boys did not want you to play on the team. Thankfully, you had the support of your brother, Marvin… who actually had no choice in the matter as Mom had told him to look after you and make sure that you play with the team. You held your own and ignored that awful pain when you slid into third base… that is when the guys began to take you seriously and really began to look at you as a real softball player! Not to mention the cheers going up when you scored. Marvin was glad that you had not embarrassed him. Even though the team lost the game… you knew that you had been a real team player and gone the extra mile… on that slide… to support the goal of the team (win the game). Afterwards, as the team walked back towards home, the discussion centered around the fun and excitement of the collective plays in the game… the loss forgotten. They joked and chided you on the way you had slid into third base… totally amazed that a girl could slide like that… ”Didn’t it hurt?”… one of them asked…”No, not really”… you replied. “We need you to slide like that in the next game”. The next game… you reflected… not sure I want to keep hurting myself.
The next week, as Marvin prepared to leave… he called out to you “Are you ready?” “No, you replied, I am not going.” ”But the team needs you”… he replied. “Do not want to play today” was your response. You reflected whether it was really worth the pain just to play with a bunch of boys… then as you continued to think through it… you thought about how you had felt after the slide… after the score. At that point, you realized that it really was not about the boys but the sense of accomplishment you felt, personally. Even though, they felt you could not play softball, within you, you knew that you could do it… if you just did your best. You also felt a sense of accomplishment being a part of the team. Overall, you felt good. You got up and ran to the softball field as the team welcomed you with…”it is about time you showed up”.
Andre’a, throughout life, you will continue to make choices similar to the one to refuse to join your brother at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Only one year ahead of you, you were always in the shadow of his accomplishments… throughout high school, your accomplishments mirrored his and your older siblings. When he got accepted to Cornell, he said, “Sis, I will see you next year”. You remember that he was so angry and disappointed when you told him you were not coming. As you reflected back on that moment, you thought about making your own choices… being independent, making a choice for Andre’a, knowing whatever you decide, you would work hard at it. You decided to go to Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Why, because you wanted to.
Andre’a, as you continue through your journey, you will continue to have choices… choices that are yours to make.