Remember back in kindergarten when everyone would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up? What did you say? Personally, when I was little, I wanted to be an artist because my dad told me I was probably the only kid my age who drew fingers on the hands of the people I drew. I thought I had this great artistic ability. I even drew a picture for the bankruptcy judge when I went with my mom to court one day (she’s a lawyer). However, my perception of my artistic abilities was vastly inaccurate.
As I got older, I decided I was going to be a veterinarian. My experience with livestock, horses, and companion animals had me convinced that saving animals was my destiny so I began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science. While that passion for animals still drives me today, one undergraduate biology class quickly convinced me that veterinary medicine was not my calling. With that in mind, I began simultaneously working on a second bachelor’s degree in agricultural business. Little did I know, that decision would take me down a path I’d never even considered: pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural business.
In terms of hobbies and sports, volleyball was always a sport I thought I’d be playing my whole life. These days, I have every intention of returning to the sport in a recreation capacity, but it has not played the role in my life I always thought it would. The same is true for roping and rodeo. While I still have an immense love and passion for the sport of roping, my life’s has diverged from the rodeo road, taking me to a much different place: graduate school. Luckily, I’m still able to ride and share my love of horses with my younger cousin through riding lessons, but had you asked me three years ago what I’d be doing at twenty-three, I would have confidently said I’d be going to ropings every weekend and practicing as much as I could.
Lately, I’ve been feeling conflicted, as we all do from time to time. I have felt the pressure of these past expectations and goals I have set. I have been experiencing disappointment and even shame for not having met most of them. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve let me past self down by now having different priorities than I did then. Was I not dedicated enough? Did I make the wrong choices? Would I be happier had I stayed on that path?
With all of those questions rushing through my head, I’ve been able to realize a few things:
- Nothing in life happens as it “should”. You can try to plan and prepare as much as possible, but life will always have a way of throwing you a curve ball that might change the way you swing your bat (yay baseball analogies).
- There are so many paths you can take in life, and very few of them are “wrong”. Any path can be the “right” path if you don’t know your destination. And let’s face it, no one in this life really knows exactly where they are headed. So embrace the journey and see where it leads.
- You are NOT letting down your past self by having different priorities today. As you move down your various paths in life, each step requires different choices. Three years ago, my priorities were roping and college, paying very little mind to my overall health and wellness. Today, roping has taken a back seat pursuing my master’s degree and a balanced lifestyle. As much as I miss roping and have every intention of returning to it someday, right now, it simply can’t be a priority.
- STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. This one continues to be a major challenge for me. With social media allowing us all to share our lives, it’s so easy to see some fitness guru posting what they eat in a day or how much they workout every day, and start feeling inadequate. One thing that has been a bit difficult for me to swallow is seeing all my old rodeo friends going to rodeos or ropings, practicing during the week, and really showing their dedication. As proud as I am of all of those individuals, when I see those things, I can’t help but think “I’m not near as handy as they are,” or something along those lines. Then, I remind myself, that we are all on different paths. We all have our goals and no single person’s goal is any better or worse than anyone else’s because they are all so unique. Comparison will never benefit you as your life is so incredibly different from everyone else’s.
When I was young, I thought I’d have everything figured out by now. I thought I’d have a steady career, exciting hobbies, and possibly even a family. After all, when you’re five years old, you think twenty-three year olds are real adults (oh how wrong we were…). Throughout your life so far, you’ve thought you’d be a certain person by now. Chances are, you aren’t the person you expected you’d be by now. Our paths through life are incredibly unpredictable and honestly, that’s kind of beautiful. What fun would life be anyway, if we knew exactly who we’d be tomorrow?