Love Anyway & Accept Life’s Opportunities: A Candid Interview with Tricey
Life’s struggles do not define you. Every single person is given a dose of hardships and each individual must decide the type of impact their hardships will have on their destiny. If anything, trials and tribulations make your accomplishments and best days even more satisfying, and we are sure that today’s feature can attest to that.
Like all of us, Tricey did not come from a perfect family. Yet, she had to make the decision to love anyway. And, her “love anyway” mentality has fueled relationships that she is truly grateful for today. Her ability to embrace life to the fullest has also given her the opportunity to work for one of the top cancer centers in the country. In a very transparent interview, she certainly reminds us to let go of other’s mistakes and to always accept opportunities even if it comes through the backdoor.
How was your childhood, what experiences, negative or positive, would you say molded you into the person you are today?
So my childhood was interesting, luckily I had a village. My mom was a young mom and my dad wasn’t quite there so I had a broken home. However, through maturity and learning from my mom’s mistakes I became a better person, in a way.
My mom wasn’t as stable as I would’ve preferred her to be and it impacted me in a big way. I switched schools a lot, I had to always meet new people and I had to be a chameleon early on. I had to learn to be more mature than I should’ve been as a child – handling and worrying about “adult obligations.” By getting involved in organizations, like cheerleading and other clubs and activities at school, I met some of the people who I call family today. They primarily impacted my life. If it wasn’t for my cheer coach, Ms. Sheila; my second grade teacher, Ms. Payton; my godmother, Honey; and my god mom, who I call my nanny, I basically wouldn’t be the type of person that I am. I would be completely different – maybe somewhere with a kid or not as successful as I am today.
Differentiating between right and wrong while learning from my mother’s mistakes were basically negative things that positively molded the woman you see today!
Did you struggle with any insecurities growing up? If so, how did you overcome them or how are you dealing with them today?
I did have a lot of insecurities as a kid. Two of the main ones were my birthmark because it looked like a hairy mole on the back of my right arm and the fact that I was so hairy as a kid. I had a unibrow and I had hair on my arms and legs, so that made me really insecure. And the boys that we would hang around in elementary school would always make jokes, like, “You’re a hairy Werewolf.” It was basically horrible, but it made me stronger in a way. Instead of getting defensive about it, crying about it or doing something dramatic or extreme, I embraced it. Instead, I fired back with jokes alike, which ultimately built character and we’re all still friends ‘til this day.
A more serious insecurity was the fact that I didn’t grow up in a stable household. Like any other family, my family wasn’t perfect. In regards to my mom, when I was younger we were close but at the same time we weren’t. By the time I graduated high school and went to college, my mom & I barely spoke. So, it was one of those things where everybody else in my life, including my closest friends, all had their parents there for support. They all had encouragement and constant advice from their mom. Their mom was that person that they could just call, talk to and vent about certain things – and I didn’t have that. Plus, at the time, my god mom & I were not on speaking terms, which was weird for us because we had never gone through anything like that. Basically, my freshmen year of college, I felt like I had no one and that was a big insecurity for me. I honestly made plans to transfer to a different university, so that I could be closer to home. But then, I realized that wouldn’t have solved anything.
Since I didn’t have that support system, I found myself always questioning, “Can I do it?” I don’t have the one person or the two people who should’ve been by my side through this. I don’t have them in my life to help me make critical decisions and give me guidance. So it caused me to always question myself. Can I succeed? Can I actually graduate college? That was one of my main insecurities but I’ve gotten over that now.
It took me a long time to find peace with my reality. I remember the summer of my sophomore year of college. I went back home, as I always did every summer, to work at a bakery called Ruggles Cake & Bakery. It was during that time that I stressed so much. I would cry, stress out, and even pray sometimes – but not as much as I should’ve been praying about the fact that my parents weren’t there for me. I remember calling my mom and literally breaking down. I felt so overwhelmed with emotions. I contacted her just to get it all out. I told her how I wanted to meet up with her just so that we could talk and become closer. She told me that she would – and she never did. Yet, regardless, I learned to love her despite of everything, and I don’t love her any less – I may even love her more because without these lessons, I would not be who I am!
Towards the end of that summer, I talked to my dad. We sat down and actually had a real conversation and he told me his point of view. He expressed how sorry he was for not being there for me and that kind of opened up the door for me to realize that he’s only human and, like my mom, I have to learn to forgive him and love him despite of everything! Fast forward 2.5 years later, my dad and I are closer than ever! He gives me advice – I’m a little less stubborn because of him – we watch our favorite T.V. shows together and we even go on daddy-daughter dates! Today, I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with my dad.
I may not have the perfect life but I do have people in my life who’ve filled in for my parents’ shortcomings and they’ve motivated me. They’ve made me a better person; they taught me things that I would never forget. And, maybe my village isn’t traditional. Maybe, it’s not the two people that I thought should be in my life. Maybe, its 6 or 7, but that’s even better than just having two people behind me. That’s how I overcame it. It took lots and lots and lots of prayer & forgiveness!
What did your college experience teach you about yourself?
My college experience taught me that I have to be patient. It taught me the value of prayer and it strengthen my faith so much, because before college I was just a “Christian.” I was just doing whatever I learned growing up. My god mom would always take me to church, so I would do whatever she did. But, if we didn’t go to church it was never a big deal to me. In college, I made it a point to attend church regularly. I wanted to learn more about God and have a more positive outlook and impact on my life. That was the main things: my faith and my patience.
College also showed me the value of building relationships, and not just relationships through networking, but the value of actually building true relationships, not just the type solely for extrinsic benefit or personal gain.
It definitely also taught me how to be more diverse. While in college, I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, where I volunteered with so many different people from so many different countries and places. It teaches you a whole lot about other countries and cultures. It teaches you how to embrace other people’s differences and that those differences can work for you –and sometimes can be very annoying – but still, in itself, it’s something that you have to understand, especially going into the working world. You have to understand how to deal with other people and you have to know how to be patient with other people.
Often times recent college graduates have difficulty finding a job. As a recent college graduate yourself, how did you happen to land a position as a research coordinator at MD Anderson, one of the leading cancer centers in the U.S.?
By the Grace of God Himself, he came down and put me in that position Himself – that’s honestly how it happened. Like every other recent college graduate, I felt like I was either failing or not doing enough to get where I wanted to be. I felt like I was never going to get a job in my field, I worried about that a lot! But at one point, I remember just reaching out to one of my colleagues to see how everything was going for her. She happened to be in the process of completing her residency at MD Anderson Cancer Center and I longed to work there, to build my career and to get started in my field. When I reached out to her, I learned that she had been having difficulty getting a regular position too, because at that time she was offered a temporary position. After an hour long conversation of just griping, encouraging and exchanging networking tips, she called me about two weeks later saying that she was going for an interview at St. Luke’s Hospital. A week after that, she received an offer from St. Luke’s and she asked me if I wanted to take over her temporary position at MD Anderson. I was like heck yes. She told me the pay wasn’t good but that I could possibly network around to figure out a permanent stay. I told her, “The pay is the least of my concerns, as long as I have the opportunity to make something out of nothing then I’ll take that chance over nothing at all.” I started as a temporary worker and then it just went up from there. My boss was impressed by me, I would say. She just wanted to see me succeed and she’s honestly the biggest, most valuable mentor and influence at the institution, in addition to my first mentor. But my boss, she created a permanent position for me. She’s taking me to travel domestically and internationally. She’s exposing me to different leaders and executives, doctors and different areas of health care that I would’ve never imagined being able to experience so fresh out of college. It was just a blessing in disguise, the temporary position turned into something so much more.
What is something that motivates you on your worst days?
On my worst day, my biggest motivator is knowing that tomorrow is another day. It sounds cliché, but when you realize that whatever you’re stressing about isn’t going to last too long, especially when you know you’ve gone through bigger obstacles, it’s uplifting. I tell myself, “There’s no point in stressing yourself out, there’s no point of giving yourself a headache. Nobody wants your problems. Just take the situation for what it is.” Embrace the difficulty of that time. Work through it and know that when you wake up tomorrow, it’s a chance to make a better day. It’s a chance to recreate whatever was going wrong. You can make it into something that’s more positive and that works for you and then you learn from that experience and you continue to move on.
What is your definition of success? What does success mean to you and how do you hope to achieve it?
Success to me is being well rounded. I don’t necessarily agree with success correlating with money. But you do have to make a certain amount of money to live a certain kind of way. I always ask God to guide me to the type of success where I will not only be able to afford the things that I need to have, the things I need to pay for like rent and living expenses but also be able to help other people. I want to be able to live a life joyfully without having to stress or worry. Success to me means being grounded mentally, physically and spiritually. To be grounded physically means working out regularly, feeling physically healthy, doing the right things for your body. To be grounded mentally means having enough self-motivation and determination to achieve the plans you have for yourself, without being swayed by other people’s opinions. Also, to have strong values and beliefs, while remaining true to those personal customs. And lastly, spiritual success to me means making sure that you’re doing everything that you can to align yourself with His word. If you stay grounded in your thoughts, if you have faith and if you think of success in your own way then it will go up from there. You’ll be able to have success in your future, in your family, in your marriage, and mentally!