By Emma Hudson '21
When I was younger, my main goal in life was to be just like my older sister, Fran. Whatever she did, I did. That is why I aspired to be a professional dancer when I grew up. Unfortunately, that plan fell through for one major reason. During a dress rehearsal for an upcoming recital, my 5-year-old self was too shy and scared to ask if I could use the restroom in the middle of dancing so instead, I thought it would be better to just pee on stage rather than simply ask, “May I go to the bathroom?” I stood there, red faced from the embarrassment, as my mom ran from the audience to get me off stage. From that moment on, I knew that being a professional dancer was off the table.
I knew I needed a new plan, so I thought to myself, “Well, what do I want to be when I grow up?” The most commonly asked question when you’re 5- or 6-years-old goes from being an ambitious dream to a realistic decision of what you should major in which, hopefully, leads to a fulfilling career.
What I want to be when I grow up, job wise, is constantly changing as I go along my journey of life. I am interested in a variety of professions that range from physical therapy to being the head chef in my own restaurant. I don’t want to pinpoint just one of them and call it quits. I believe that in my future, I will pick a general path to follow but that path will create new opportunities within it for me to pursue.
"What I know for sure, is that when I grow up, I want to be the combination of the most distinguishable characteristics of those that I love and care for the most in my life."
By saying that, I’ve realized that my answer to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” may be different to what the usual answer is, meaning, I may not know what I want to be, but rather who I want to be. What I know for sure, is that when I grow up, I want to be the combination of the most distinguishable characteristics of those that I love and care for the most in my life. The product of taking what I find so inspiring out of each one and merging them into one human is what I hope to be when I grow up.
My mothers, Pam and Leila, are my rocks. They are there for everything, and I mean everything. Whether it's a soccer game or a cross country meet, at least one of them, sometimes even a dog or two, show up. You can always count on them to roll up in the RV, which is undeniably very useful but at the same time, incredibly embarrassing. They are exceedingly supportive which attributes to the long list of reasons why they are my biggest role models. Pam is the CEO of Crestwood Medical Center. She is a leader, mentor, and scholar. She works exceptionally hard at what she does and is devoted to her work and her family and everything in between, while maintaining unwavering composure. To lead a hospital during the day and then come home and co-lead a household cannot be easy, but she makes it look so. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been swamped with work, but has managed to keep her family a priority through it all. She comes home late and stressed, but still manages to make me dinner and have my requested laundry complete by the time I need it. When I grow up, I want to be as devoted as Pam is to my future family and job while keeping composure to get me through the toughest times without giving up.
Leila is a certified MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) teacher and a therapist. She is someone who I feel comfortable going to with any problem and I know that I will not be judged. I can rely on her for the much needed, but not always wanted, advice such as suggesting ways that I can solve a problem rather than just dwelling on it. She is someone who sees every perspective and reminds me to keep others’ feelings in mind as well as mine. She teaches me what it means to be mindful and encourages me to practice it every day. Sometimes, I’m not the easiest person to talk to. I’ll start telling a story about how ironic it is that I can run 7 miles easily, but get winded climbing a flight of stairs at school. Five minutes later, I’ll wind up talking about the woman in front of me that took forever to order at Dunkin’ that morning. I can also be stubborn and when I am, it’s mostly me refusing to drink the energy shake she makes me every morning at 5:00am before cross country practice. The amount of patience Leila has with me and our conversations is downright impressive. Sometimes, I look back at a conversation and think to myself, “Wow, I wouldn’t even talk to me. How did she survive that?” Not only is she a great listener, but she always gives me helpful feedback. The wisdom she sheds on every person she speaks to attests to the person she is. She loves to interact with others and will never fail to make a statement that will stick with you for years. She makes this world a better place because of it. I would do anything to have Leila’s patience and wisdom.
Fran, my older sister, and I are nearly complete opposites. She’s more introverted and I’m more extroverted. She is extremely gifted in music and spends her time practicing the clarinet while I spend hours on the track, on the soccer field, and in the workout room. I’m organized and nit-picky while she has more of an organized mess, which to the average eye, is just a mess, but for Fran, it works. I believe that the biggest characteristic that sets us apart is how strong-willed Fran is. She likes to be heard and make a difference in the world as best she can. She has her beliefs which she sticks to through anything and stands up for them whenever she can. If there’s a problem, she does everything she can to fix it. Fran’s morality and ability to see that a situation isn’t right and try to make a change is what makes her so strong-willed. Having that ability to stand up for what you believe in against all odds is something I aspire to have just like Fran does.
My grandparents have always been a big part of my life. Growing up, my parents, sister and I would spend every Friday night at their house. They come to as many of my sporting events as they can. My grandmother, Betty, is probably the toughest person I know. Recently, she fell and shattered her hip. At any age, let alone 88, that pain cannot be easy to tolerate. She handled it like a woman though. Even though her pain levels were through the roof, she made it seem like it was just a minor inconvenience by carrying on a conversation with me while we waited for my mom to come check her out. She has always been this way and it’s the most inspiring thing about her that I look up to. To have Betty’s toughness would make me invincible.
Fred is my grandfather. His background story is so fascinating that I could hear it a million times and never get bored. He studied missiles and radar, was drafted in the Korean War and worked on the rocket, Saturn V. He is also known as the “Hockey Man” of Huntsville. He helped start the city’s first ever hockey association. At the age of 86, he was still playing the sport he adores. He is truly the most intelligent person I’ve met. Every time I talk to him, I learn something new. To this day, he still likes to work complex math problems in his office. My grandfather’s intelligence is something I’ve always aspired to have and work for.
"I encourage you to find what drives you, what motivates you, and what gets you to achieve your goals. For me, it’s the people around me and what qualities they give to the world that I aspire to have and work harder for."
A lot of people have told me that I am a hard-working student and athlete. I’ve been told that I am so dedicated to everything I do and strive to be the best that I can be. I always get extremely flattered whenever someone tells me this, but I can never give myself full credit for being the reason why I am so dedicated and hard-working. The longest coach I’ve had is Twig, my cross country and track coach. Whenever someone compliments me on my dedication to my many hobbies, I have Twig to thank. Since the day I met him when I was in sixth grade running track with the Randolph Athletics Program (RAP), he has done nothing but push and support me. The many training plans he’s made for me, the pep-talks about mentality and how it’s all between the ears, and the constant yelling during workouts or races show that Coach Twig is dedicated to me and making me a better runner. Twig has taught me that even when I feel like I can’t give any more effort, I am not done trying. He believes in my potential and pushes me to get out of my comfort zone. Twig has never taken his foot off the gas and that motivates me to give everything I’ve got into everything I do. He’s proven to me that dedication can and will take me places. My success in what I do all started from Coach Twig and his unconditional support. He showed me what dedication looks like to a team and to yourself. I’ve looked up to that ever since I met him.
Mr. Raiford, my advisor, and I have become extremely close throughout my high school years. When I first got the letter in the mail saying that Mr. Raiford would be my advisor for the next four years, I asked my sister, “Who’s Mr. Raiford?” She replied by saying that he is someone in her grades’ dad. “Oh great, I’m going to have a dad as an advisor”, I said. Who knew that three years later, I would actually consider him a father figure to me? He has the purest soul and always has a smile on his face. He makes others laugh and cares about everyone. He goes the extra mile in everything he does and all the advisory breakfasts and cookies he’s made proves just that. I know I can turn to him with any problem and he’ll give me the advice that I need. Mr. Raiford’s purity and selflessness is what I aspire to have when I grow up.
So, what do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be the combination of the most distinguishable characteristics of those that I love and care for the most in my life. I want to be as devoted and composed as Pam is, as patient and full of wisdom as Leila is, as strong willed as Fran is, as tough as Betty is, as intelligent as Fred is, as persistent and determined as Twig is, and as pure and selfless as Mr. Raiford is. Striving to have all these characteristics makes me a better person. I look up to these people and can’t help but hope that someday, I can obtain all of these qualities and be able to share them with those that will come after me. I encourage you to find what drives you, what motivates you, and what gets you to achieve your goals. For me, it’s the people around me and what qualities they give to the world that I aspire to have and work harder for.