Growing up in an era where kids had access to video games, toys, and social media, the parents of a young girl growing up in Florida were hoping her passion for sports would help her reach her full potential.
It didn’t work out that way.
She dropped out of school, was homeless for a time, and is now living with her mom in a trailer on the outskirts of Tallahassee.
Basketball has helped ease her transition to adulthood, but she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to get back to her high school years.
Her parents have since given up trying to help her find a job, she said.
“They never gave me the opportunity to find something that I liked, they never gave a chance to be like, ‘Oh, you’re a girl, you can play sports,'” she said of her parents.
Even though she’s in her early 30s, the girl is still very much the same person.
She plays soccer, plays golf, and has a love for the outdoors.
She even played in a soccer team in high school.
“I’m a girl that has never been in the same situation as a boy,” she said, explaining how her parents and teammates have helped her through the transition.
The girl, who is in her second year of college, said she has been looking for work since she was 14 years old.
She started looking for a job at Brats, a fast-casual chain in Florida, when she was 15.
She said she’s been in Brats for four years now, but said she was initially turned down.
“My mom was like, [‘I don’t want you here,’]” she said about her parents’ rejection.
After two years of working at Brates, she got a new position that would allow her to go back to school, but only if she could keep her hair short.
She wanted to continue working out and training in the gym, but her hair was getting longer.
She also was worried about being a girl in a company that values physical appearance.
When she was hired as a receptionist at Brat, she was surprised by how many men approached her.
“Men were saying, ‘I have a dream of being a doctor and I want to do this, I want a career that’s different, I have a family,'” she recalled.
While she was working at the Brats store, she also started going to sports tournaments.
I felt like I was at my lowest point, she recalled, because I was so shy and so scared.
I was just looking for someone that would look out for me, she added.
In February, she found a position at Brads, and decided to stay at home.
She says she was able to work out in the fitness room at Brands and was a little more confident at home because she had her own personal trainer.
Still, she’s still not comfortable with her new role.
“[It’s] kind of scary to know you’re not allowed to wear a skirt, you have to wear the same thing every day,” she explained.
“I felt more comfortable in the locker room.”
Despite her new life, she still struggles to fit in.
“Being the girl that I am, I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself, and I’m not very social,” she added, explaining that she doesn’t know how to fit into the locker rooms.
With a growing number of women in their 20s coming out to their parents and friends, the challenges of transitioning to adulthood are becoming more common.
Brats CEO Chris Nigg said his team’s goal is to provide more support to employees and make Brats a welcoming place for everyone.
A new survey found that over the past four years, the company has experienced a 40% increase in employee turnover.
The company is also increasing its support to families with children, adding that Brats is now a “family friendly” place for all of its employees.
But while the company is striving to create a safe environment for its employees, the lack of support for women still remains a concern.
One of the reasons that women often struggle with transitions into adulthood, according to a study from the University of Florida, is that they often do not have support systems or resources for them.
Nigg said that Brants has recently made it a priority to hire women in its corporate team.
And Brats CEO Nigg is working to bring more female employees into the workforce by making more female-owned stores more appealing to women.
So while Brats has been a successful business, it’s not immune to the challenges that come with becoming an adult.
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @RyanKolb.