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2nd Place - my first choice

Second place is the first loser. Second place is a recurring theme in my life, "second place" has transformed and shaped who I am today. As I've been thinking about this concept for a while now, I've been able to rattle off a pretty substantial list of events in my life, that I was in second place - second choice - runner-up.

Think back to the early 90's and high school. Remember the cheerleaders in high school? I am sure you do. Well, we had Poms in high school and they were the equivalent to today's "mean girls". Unfortunately, what you see depicted on the movie screen or on the television shows is pretty spot-on to what life as a pom-pom was. The girls on the pom-pom squad were "popular", skinny, pretty, your quintessential "cool kid".

When my sister and I were younger, in junior high, we would watch the movie "Can't Buy Me Love" all the time. This was pre-high-school for me and the cheerleaders in the movie were someone (I would think to myself) I'd never be "cool enough" to be when high school came around for me.

Try-outs were a weeklong event - a lot of pressure for a hormonal high school freshman. I didn't try out for my freshman year, I actually didn't know that was an option; it was quickly evident my freshman year - Poms was the way to go. I embarked on this try-out process, learn the routine, practice like crazy and prepare to perform in front of upperclassmen - those oh so popular junior and senior girls - judgemental AF - with my high school hopes and dreams riding on their subjective decision.

Going into my sophomore year, I made the junior varsity (JV) squad; along with some other sophomores and a lot of freshmen. Fast forward to end of my sophomore year, try-outs roll around again, I go through the whole rigamarole again - learn the routine, practice like crazy and prepare to perform with panic because this time, my classmates are now on varsity and part of this evaluation process.

We head up to the high school on the following Saturday morning to see the poster board with the names of the girls who made the squad. There it was. My name. I made it! I made the JV squad. AGAIN. I was going to be a junior in high school on the junior varsity squad. Everyone else, including my freshmen cohorts, made varsity. Talk about your walk of shame. I was devastated. Crushed.

The following week a girl quit and that opened up a position on the varsity squad; they moved me from JV to Varsity. Talk about feeling defeated. Feeling like a charity case. Feeling like you don't belong. Feeling like you aren't good enough. Experiencing all those crushing blows during your developmental formative teenage years.

My KPT attitude shined through, although I didn't realize it at that time. Even way back then, I had the grit and grace to push through and stick it out. My journey of second places didn't end there; in fact, this was only the beginning of this journey. Those second place journey's I now know were second chances and there is so much grace and beauty in that second chance.

Fast forward a couple more years - I applied to Graduate School even though it was a long shot. My grades were good, I was going to graduate undergrad with honors, that was about it. There was nothing spectacular on my vita at this point in life. One day as I was sitting outside, smoking my Marborlo Light, I overheard my professor discussing my application and the requirements for the MSAP program. He was reluctant and questioning my ability to perform and complete the requirements.

Two years later I graduated summa cum laude, with only 2 A-'s on my transcripts, everything else an A equating to a 3.97 GPA in Graduate School. The A-'s were both assigned by that same professor questioning my ability to perform within the program. A little more KPT was born throughout those two years (and a little side of FU).

I was the runner-up as a presenter at a National conference last year. They accepted my RFP only after someone else had declined to present. I was their second choice and I was given a second chance to present nationally. I presented to an audience of nearly 200 people, each who made a decision to come and see what I had to say.

I do believe this is where some self-esteem and self-worth was defined for me. This is also where depression and anxiety planted a few roots. But, this is also where KPT was born. This is where KPT has its roots - where my strength and determination and fortitude and courage and bravery was born. Praise Be - Dr. Z believes in second chances, he gave me an entirely new life. I am living my second chance. This is what it's all about - keep pushing through. I for one, do not think second place is the first loser, second place is where your character shines, your gratitude magnifies and grace is pervasive.

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