BY TRACY HARRIS
“Be You: Stories of Self-Discovery” is a new monthly column in Forsyth Woman. Writer Tracy Harris’ vision for the column is to tell stories that are motivational lessons for women. She is a vocal proponent who believes women can achieve anything, no matter their situations. Harris is an only child from Mississippi and has recently relocated to the Triad from Maryland. She is a mother of four and soon Harris will be getting remarried, and will gain two more children. Currently, she is the Catering Manager for Plain and Fancy Caterers in High Point. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, holds an MBA, has hosted her own radio morning show in Baltimore, and participated in the Air Force Auxiliary. In addition, Harris has served as a Captain and a Co-Pilot in the Air Force Auxiliary, and has flown airplanes, as well as helicopters.
There comes a pivotal time in a person’s life when they reach a crossroad. That time came for me a couple of years ago in an unlikely source, Hurricane Irene.
I was a single mother of four kids barely making ends meet, constantly stressed and worried. Then Hurricane Irene hit the eastern seaboard. At that time I was working a sales job and was a co-pilot with the Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol). I was fortunate enough to have flown in a mission right after the storm that received a Presidential Award. A few weeks later, I received a call from a local radio station asking if someone from our squadron would come in and be interviewed on the air. Now I was the only female in an all male squadron, and when word got out that they needed someone from our mission to talk on the air, all the men ended up with laryngitis on the same day (so they said). Needless to say, I was the one to do the interview. That interview started me down the path of learning about not only myself, but also some important life lessons.
Shortly after that interview aired, I was approached about becoming an on-air talent for that station. I had no radio background nor had I ever considered it as a career. Quite frankly, I didn’t think I had the confidence or thick enough skin to be a public persona and all it could entail, but it did pique my interest.
So I talked to my friends and family about making this rather large decision and was given every reason why I was foolish for considering it. Even the thought of considering it made me feel guilty, as I had four lives that depended on me. Self-doubt began to appear, along with the disappointment that comes from giving up on something you really want.
However, before I made the final decision, I sat my children down (ages 15, 14, 10 and 7 at the time), as I do with most important decisions, and asked them their opinion. Children have the privilege of not having preconceived notions as to who we should be. They only see what we can be. With four pairs of loving eyes staring at me, and with the enthusiasm that only children can exude, they gave me every reason why I should take the opportunity. “Go for it, Mom!”
In that moment, I realized something really important. Everyone comes to the table with their own negativity or their own thoughts on the way things should be. However, if we are to be true to ourselves, we need to realize that no one can tell us who we are meant to be but ourselves. No one! With this new found knowledge and a whole lot of hyperventilating, I began my radio career. I eventually became the host of my own morning show in Baltimore where I had the honor of talking to so many inspiring women about their struggles and how they overcame them.
As my show evolved, there was a common thread that I began to see. That thread was that, as women, we tend to let those around us dampen our dreams or convince us that our current circumstances prevent us from reaching for what we want, or from being whom we are meant to be. I am not ok with that.
So if my experience has any lesson, it would be to follow your heart and ambitions, realizing that YOU are the only one who can make your dreams come true. With this in mind, my goal with “Be You” is that by sharing some of my stories and insight, they will resonate with you and hopefully help you tap into your inner strength. If I am able to make a difference in one woman’s life, then my efforts will be worthwhile.
I would love to hear your story. Feel free to reach out to me on Facebook at @tracyandrobfink
Oh, by the way, when asked, my kids would tell their friends that I worked for the government. Seems being on the radio wasn’t cool…