For the past several years, it's a common theme for me to hear people to say "When you're famous..." or "I can say I met that girl." I've also gotten, "I hope you remember us little people" and "Don't forget about us" and "Stay true to who you are."
It's humbling really, but I don't like it to be honest with you. It bothers me-never having been one to get "star struck"-to think that one person is or will be better or "higher" or "different" than anyone else. I usually just laugh it off. What is hard for me to comprehend is that people do change when they get to be more recognized or accomplished... that they think they are better and more entitled.
I feel that people who get things handed to them appreciate what they've got much less, which is why I love the significance of my low statistical chance of being "successful" in racing. The odds have always been against me, but I will have to continue to work my butt off to get what I want so I'm ok with that.
I've continually promised myself that I would and will hold on to who I am and where I've come from.
It's strange, really. I mean, yes, the goal is to be this "high and mighty" professional racecar driver. However, I learned more and more in the last few years why I want to achieve that and what it will mean to "make it" for me.
Racing is not just my "job."
I love that I didn't get into racing because I "wanted to be a racecar driver". At the beginning and the end of the day, I am a to-the-bone racecar driver at heart. I started at 5 years old, because my parents took me to a Quarter Midget race when I was 4 and I asked to do it. Granted, my dad was the happiest guy in Xenia, Ohio - but I have been the most competitive person in the room in almost every room I've walked into my entire life. (Playing a board game with me was never, ever fun for anyone... including myself!) In this career at the top levels, I will be able to compete with the best of the best and do what I was born to do.
Racing gives me an opportunity to help others.
I realized that I could be in a position to make a difference. At the end of my days, I do not want to just be known as a "racecar driver." I have been fortunate to attend many different local and high-profile charity events and functions in the last few years, and it has really allowed me to understand compassion. I want to be in a position where I can contribute in many ways, not only financially but perhaps as a mentor or role model as well. I love the meaning of the word "philanthropist" and I want to be one of "those people" when I die.
I follow through with all of the energy and drive I possess.
My plan is to be successful. I've said this a lot in the last few years, that "no matter my career path, I will do things the right way to the best of my ability and achieve success." This is where #1 and #2 come together in a sense. I define success in many ways, but I believe in living your life to the fullest, chasing your goals and dreams, and doing them at the highest standard possible. That means not taking just any job to have one. If your dream job isn't out there, make it. Start your own business, but do the research it takes to make it right. Don't half-ass it, and be willing to work your butt off to get it there. Granted, luck is luck, fate is fate... but at the end of the day, if you gave it your all and you put the work in to do it right to the best of your ability, you've succeeded in my opinion. To me, struggles and overcoming them are success. Fighting for your cause or goal is success. Becoming a well-rounded, "life-experienced" human-being is success. In racing, I'm able to do what I love, challenge myself, live and learn life, and make a difference. Go all out in all that you do.
At the end of the day, I think that staying true will come naturally to me. I speak in that tone because I plan to be "the next best thing," a "game changer," something the industry hasn't seen-EVER. Being at the top is not the question-being the best when I get there is. Will it be a challenge? Can I be that person that INDYCAR needs? Can I get to the top and win as a female while continuing to embrace this gracious tenacious "brand" that I speak of? Can I become a humble yet powerful mentor for people of all ages and still remember where I came from?
Yes. Yes. YES. YES!