Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Underdog By: Karen Pilarski

The Underdog

By: Karen Pilarski

Underdogs are the ones who are not expected to win or not the ideal choice. I have often felt like one in my lifetime. My twin brother and I were born on a snowy January morning in the late 70's. We were quite premature. I weighed a mere four pounds. My brother weighed more and was also born first by a minute. I joke that he was selfish and hogged the womb. I was very sick and put in an incubator while my brother was taken home. I wasn't expected to live. Somehow against the limited expectation, I survived. My first victory under my belt! 

 Growing up I still had mountains to climb. Due to my premature birth I was late in my development.  Amazingly I learned how to do the normal things infants and children do, just later than others my age. The notion is funny now since I feel I was late to do many things like go to college, get married, learn to drive amongst many milestones.

  My family consisted of five brothers and three sisters. My father often said to the boys, especially my twin, that he would be a doctor or lawyer. The girls were treated like caregivers. It was a female's lot in life to babysit and clean. No one told me I could be those things. Nor did I think much concern was given to what the girls would become. Needless to say there wasn't much expectation for me. Boiling in my blood was the ambition to become more than a babysitter.

 Due to development issues I also had emotional issues. I would cry easily or scream for no reason. My father certainly didn't have patience with me. Looking back, I ponder what child doesn't actually do those things? Teased and bullied by my brothers, my esteem was often lower than the ground. I felt dumb and ugly. I struggled in math and reading. In the fifth grade my academics and outlook changed. I had a wonderful teacher named Mr. Mansfield who encouraged and believed in me. My grades and esteem shot so high it poked holes in the clouds.  

In high school, math was still a sore subject. I failed algebra more than once. The teachers always said I tried very hard. That is one attribute I admire about myself. Even if the odds are not in my favor I try my best. I managed to pass math with a 'D.' That was a hard earned 'D.' During high school I didn't make the cheerleading squad. In true form, I went back and tried again. I made the squad and even was promoted to captain! 

 Four years after high school I started college. See what I mean by late in life? Timid, unassertive I began my studies at a college. I struggled in math and semantics. My hardworking power proved useful because I was successful in those courses. I took a news writing course. The teacher observed something special within me. She took me under her wing and let me fly. She made me editor of the college newspaper and was like the mother I never had. She mentored me and taught me how to be a reporter, editor and teacher. Most valuable was how she taught me to overcome the underdog status. 

Despite the lack of expectations of a few, I now have a master's degree. My work has been published. Big achievements for a newborn not expected to make it past a few breaths. Finally, I have a passion for writing so hot it burns not to do it. From time to time I may fall under the underdog status. Especially, as I attempt to stand out in a competitive job market. With a cheering section and hard work, other people’s past expectations, doesn’t matter. I expect to win because I am my own ideal choice.