by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Well, I survived.
Nah, that sounds way too dramatic. I did seriously graduate college, though, finally! Looking forward, I get to spend my summer with friends and family, and then go to Eastern New Mexico University in the fall to complete my bachelorís degree in communications.
Looking backÖ Well, as I took my last finals and cleaned my horsesí pens and my feed room for the last time, it gave me time to look back over the last four years and all the experiences Iíve had in that time. So, like the word-loving person I am, I started thinking, what would I say to the younger me who came down to New Mexico (from 1,700 miles away in Pennsylvania) four years ago?
Laugh more, let your hair down a little. Lighten up, and yes, youíre being judgmental, so quit that. Donít talk yourself into doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Keep your standards high Ė itís worth it. Trust your gut more than you do. Work on your cooking before you leave for college, and remember to boil the noodles before you put íem in the casserole. You can survive on gas station food and McDonaldís fast food, but you wonít feel very goodÖbut once in a while, itís good for the soul. Plus, cooking at the apartment feeds you longer for cheaper than eating outÖand invite people over once in a whileÖbut even if itís just you at the house, cook anyways. Share with your dog. Just make the muffins. Donít go to the grocery store hungry, but donít forget to get milk, either.
Start eating sunflower seeds when you drive before your junior year; it keeps you awake without making you feel yucky from boredom eating. Energy drinks arenít worth it, but coffee is always a win. Enter rodeos a little more wisely, have faith in your horse and yourself, but not blind faith. Take the gray horse your freshman year: leaving him home will be the only thing you truly regret in your four years. Youíll kick yourself for plenty of your choices, but youíll have learned life lessons from those things that you would never have learned otherwise. Stretch before the goat tying, take 45 seconds to make sure all your borrowed gear fits you because if you donít you will pay for it. Stretch your shoulder before you rope even if it doesnít feel tight. Go to the gym when you get the chance, freshman, donít be a scaredy cat. Youíre going to do schoolwork at Starbucks and McDonaldís while youíre rodeoing, accept it now. Hush your mouth, and the fears in your brain, and listen. Ask lots of questions, and actually hear the answer. Hang out with the rodeo kids who are better than you and learn from them, donít be intimidated by them. Old cowboys have the best advice, but if you donít ever ask them, they wonít tell you, but you better be ready for some stories once you get them chatting. Guard your passion for this sport and remember why you started Ė youíre gonna burn yourself out if you donít. Taking a break is okay. So is taking your barrel horse to a branding, itís good for him and you. Hard work beats talent when talent doesnít work hard. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, youíre still gonna lose, and itíll take some time to come to terms with that. Give yourself the same grace you give everyone else and take your own advice, okay?
Have a little more faith and a little more confidence in it. Pray a little more Ė okay, pray a lot more, and not just when you backed yourself in a corner. Late night drives to make it home for church on Sunday are worth it, and when you canít make it, listen to the podcast, for crying out loud. Actually read your Bible every day, donít just take it with you. Verses and motivating quotes on notecards around the house and the trailer donít do you any good if you never actually read them.
Get out of your shell; youíre going to make some of the best friends here that youíll ever have. Theyíll be family, and if you ask for help, youíll get it, I promise, but donít ever be scared to make something work, either. Do things out of your comfort zone, itís so worth the nerves! Learning to dance is a good thing, itíll be fun. Stay out late with friends or to finish that assignment, you can sleep when youíre dead (thanks Dad for the inspiration). Just donít forget that sleep is a good thing (again, thanks Dad!). Speaking of Dad, love your family for who they are. Text them first. Call home more often. Distance can bring you closer, but only if you allow it. Reasonable alcohol consumption after 21 is fine, chill out about it. Your dog is the best travel partner youíll have, although sometimes, itís okay to let somebody else drive. And the guy you trust to drive your rig? Yeah, heís a keeper. Give it time and let it grow. You canít force things, and neither can you sit around waiting for things to happen. If you want it, do whatever is in your power to make it happen, and then have a little faith in God for the rest. Be honest with yourself about what you want, and if you really did everything you could to meet your goals. Trust certain people, but trust your gut moreÖ Rely on those around you, but not to the point you handicap yourself. You are strong, fierce, and independent. Donít lose that for anyone. Donít be stubborn just for the sake of being stubborn, either. Your grit and try will take you far and open doors you never knew could be opened.
Youíre gonna learn, youíre gonna grow, youíre gonna look back and know that even when you doubted it, you were exactly where you needed to be. Youíre gonna be just fine. Youíre gonna kick yourself for some things, but youíll be proud Ė and you should be.
Dear younger me, and dear soon-to-be-college student: I believe in you.
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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