Can I tell you a secret?
I never liked being a girl.
I’m pretty sure this was because deep down I knew how hard it was to be a girl like me. I loved dirt, Donkey Kong, and Ken Griffey, Jr. I dreamed of playing major league baseball, becoming President, inventing better computers, and collecting rocks on the moon. I bet you know what I’m talking about—these are the kind of dreams that people smile at, but don’t take seriously. Especially because we’re girls.
Now I’m a teacher, and I love it. I didn't forget my childhood dreams. I never learned how to make them come true.
I thought it was enough to love something so much. I loved computers for as long as I can remember. I was sure that I would grow up and work at Microsoft. Did I take any computer science classes in high school? Nope. Too shy. Those classes were full of boys I didn’t know. I finally enrolled in engineering classes in college. Did I feel intimidated? Yep. Did I persevere? Nope. The end.
If I could go back and change one thing about my life, that would be it. I don’t regret where I ended up, but how easily I gave up. If you’re one of my students reading this, you probably don’t believe me--we talk everyday about doing hard things! The thing is, I didn’t learn to do hard things until I was a grown up. At least not to do them on purpose, anyway.
When I decided not to become an engineer, I had a hard time finding something else to do. It took another five years before I decided to become a teacher. But the funny thing is, now that I am a teacher, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I love teaching because it taught me how to do hard things. I realized I couldn’t give up, because kids were counting on me. I love teaching because I get to teach you how strong and brave you are, before your choices get so big. I love teaching because I can help you learn to love the things that scared me. We experiment with chemistry and physics, drawing and painting. I love teaching because I get to show you the joy in the things I still love to learn about. We test rockets, write code, and dig in the dirt. We plan your path to the presidency.
You know what else? The dreams I had when I was your age have come true after all. Just not in the way I thought they would. This spring, I met Bill Gates and visited the Oval Office. Soon I’ll go to Space Camp and throw a pitch at a Mariners game. That’s the thing about dreams. They sometimes sneak up on you.
So, girls. As you grow up, remember that you are strong and brave. Take hold of your dreams. I can’t wait to watch! You might just do something that’s never been done before, because you are a girl. Isn’t that cool?!
I have one more secret to tell you. Ready?
I decided that being a girl isn’t so bad after all.
It’s actually pretty amazing.