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Don't Grow Old

by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl

"Work is much more fun than fun." - Noel Coward

My Papa, my mom's stepfather, was the absolute king of making anything entertaining. He passed away at the beautiful age of 82, but up until he got sick (sometimes even then) you'd swear he couldn't be more than 17 years old, if you didn't know any better.


When my siblings and I were younger, we'd get lined up if we got in trouble, and Papa would always be right there in that line along with us. He was forever building or creating something, whether it was painting pumpkins at Halloween, building snowmen in the wintertime, or making name plates for the horses' stalls. The last time we moved houses, I remember re-painting my bedroom with him -- that was beyond interesting! If he had to pick me up from school for some reason, we'd always go and get a parfait before going wherever we had to go. When I was upset about something, he always had a story (with some truth in it somewhere) to make me laugh and encourage me to keep on keeping on with whatever was challenging me.

As little kids, eating vegetables wasn't much fun, and neither was bathtime -- usually. Pretty much anything else, though... we'd make it fun! Those were the days when a long car ride meant having a rock band with your siblings to whatever came on the radio, when class projects meant a sleep-over after the work was finished, when a tough week at school sometimes meant pizza and games at home on Friday night. I was 12 when I started rodeoing, and then, a bad run just meant I needed to ride more that week, and it was still so much fun to run so fast! We were convinced that whatever happened, it was just a game, some way, some how.

Why did that mentality change as we grew up?


Sometimes, life will put some pressure on you, and try to lower your spirits. Especially as a college student, I'm not going to lie and say it's always a whole mess of fun. There's work to do, whether it's in class, extra time in the library (I've been there more so far this semester than in the last two and a half years), with clubs, at a job, keeping in touch with your family, going to practice or competitions, or anything else a college kid could possibly get involved in. That is kind of the point of college: work hard, learn something, and come out a more productive member of society. Right?


On the flip side... no matter what you're doing, you've got to be able to have fun with it! Even when a class is super difficult and the professor seems to want to see you fail (they don't, just for the record), you've got to look at it like my rodeo coach tells me: You get to be here, in this moment, doing what you're doing.

When I've got a lot on my mind, and I'm not roping very well, he'll make me take a minute before my next practice run to sit at my starting point, take a deep breath, and smile. Right now especially, I am very blessed to be in the practice pen at college in New Mexico, where it is way warmer and drier than it is in central Pennsylvania, where it is freezing cold, snowy, and icy. Maybe I'm the only one, but I think I'd much rather be playing in the dirt in a short-sleeve shirt!

Mom and Rebecca

That's what I thought of when I first read the quote, Work is much more fun than fun. I've been keeping track of my time in the gym, and my dad got me a "runner's calendar" for Christmas. There's a motivational quote each week, and "Work is much more fun than fun" was the catchphrase from last week. I did have to read it a few times before I registered what exactly that meant, but think about it; it does make sense! When you're working at something you love, you'd much rather do the work than be messing around somewhere, yes? For example, if a teacher assigns an essay on a topic that intrigues me or is close to my heart, all I want to do is go write it, even though it's still a challenge. That's the mindset we've got to have about everything.

Not everything you'll deal with in college will be enjoyable, but one thing I've learned: You can find a way to make it fun. Just like when we were little, if there's a way to make something fun, do it! When things are rough and an assignment is hard, look at it with a different perspective -- I get to become stronger through this. I get to beat the odds (and if you're coming to the United States to study, you're already doing that!), I get to learn from this experience, I get to be challenged, and laugh when I win. College has a funny way of teaching you things that aren't in your syllabus... just throwing that out there.


If you're willing to have fun with everything and anything, it will make your life so much easier. My teammates and I have been talking about that lately; some of us have gotten so serious, or so focused on winning, or focused on fixing mistakes, we've forgotten why we started this in the first place. My runs haven't been so great because I've been such a perfectionist, and I don't want to mess up. One of our bull riders hasn't been covering his bulls even at practice because he's so fixated on qualifying for certain rodeos. We had a long talk with Coach about that the other day, and since then, my runs have been much better. The whole team got fired up about the bull ride he made at our last practice because we set our minds on letting rodeo be fun!

The point is: Treat life how you did when you were little. Whatever you do, have fun with it! There are times to have normal fun, like weekends and with friends, and there are times to have serious fun, such as at practice and when you're studying for that next test.

Take a lesson from my Papa. Growing old is mandatory... Growing up, not so much.

Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:

Best of luck in all your endeavors,
especially as you move forward on your college path!

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