by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Life is a crazy thing, isn't it? Seems like all is good, and then one day, somewhere around those middle school years, you wake up and everything is chaos! Or maybe that was just me. I don't know. Anyway…
I'm about to head back East for Thanksgiving break, and I plan to actually take a break this time! My homework is done and I'm caught up on shop projects (those don't travel well), I've got everything situated for my horses and my dog, and I'm packed, finally. I leave in less than 10 hours, and I just finished packing. No wonder my poor Mom worries about me! Between working, going to class and practice, traveling to rodeos and to visit the veterinarian, building buckles and other silversmithing projects, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, this semester has sure enough been a busy one, but that's always how it is. I just scheduled my last semester of classes at Mesalands Community College last week, and it struck me how fast those years have gone by. I've been here for four years now, not just to waste time, either. I'll continue on to Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales, New Mexico, for another two or three semesters to finish my bachelor's degree. Looking at all that time spent in college got me thinking about more than just my degrees and what I'm going to do when I graduate from ENMU.
When I was a junior in high school, I visited Mesalands the weekend after Thanksgiving. I knew immediately that was the college I wanted to attend. While I looked at a few other schools, I knew that Tucumcari, New Mexico was where I wanted to be for a variety of reasons. The main reason was my major – I was going to get my degree in silversmithing as well as farrier science, which is learning how to shoe horses. In two years, if I worked hard, I'd be graduating college with two associates' degrees. Two in two years! Pretty cool, yeah? Well…not so much. That was my plan primarily because I didn't think I had the motivation to go to a bigger school and keep going to class for another four years after high school. I wasn't that certain in what I wanted to do to be willing to spend that much money and keep my grades that high for that long. I wasn't really even sure I wanted to go to college, but I knew I had to. It sounds kind of cliché, now, but my path through college has most definitely been the one I needed, not the one I planned on. Because of the extra time I've spent at Mesalands, I'll graduate in the spring with two occupational certificates and two associates' degrees, as well as completion of my minor for ENMU. I've met so many amazing people who have taught me so much about life, not just school subjects. That time has shaped me as an individual (I know, that sounds cliché too), but it's also made me realize what motivates me, and that's really where I'm going with all of this!
As a high school kid, still living with your parents, sometimes it's easy to allow their hopes and expectations for you be your motivation. I still think it's good to have that kind of push! However, when you're time zones away from your parents, it can be ridiculously easy to lose track of what they wanted for you, and it's important that you take that time to figure out what you want for yourself. What are you motivated to do? What really gets you fired up even when you're tired and worn out? Answer those questions honestly, but then you have to ask yourself another question.
Why is that what motivates you? Why is that what you want? Is it because your parents always suggested it, or you're afraid to let them (or someone else) down if you chose another option? Are you afraid of failing if you attend the college with the bigger student population and tougher degree plan? Are you worried you won't make enough money after graduation? I'm going to stop there, because that's already a lot of concerns, but you've worked all of that, and more, over and over again in your mind. Whether it's college, going to the gym, taking time for yourself, choosing who to be in a relationship with – or even if you want to be in a relationship at all – it boils down to one thing.
What's on your heart, and what do you have the passion to do?
I'm not at all suggesting you throw out everyone else's input and considerations, but make sure it's actually what you want before you decide to go ahead with something. It's okay to say no sometimes! Maybe you get an offer for a part-time job, but you know the work isn't work that you'll do to your best ability because it's something you cannot stand doing. Don't take it, especially if it gets in the way of your classes or other priorities. When you wake up to your to-do list each day, what thought actually gets you out of bed to go take on the day? I will promise that when you are truly dedicated to something, it doesn't matter how early it is, or how yucky the weather is, that's what you want and that's what you throw off the covers for when it's 4am, 20 degrees, and you went to bed at midnight with a headache. It's good to have a list of people you don't want to see you fail, but it's also good to realize that you're the one who's got to live with the choices you make.
That's not always easy, and sometimes it leads to leaving people in the past you thought would always be beside you. It's worth it. Really for real. Sometimes it leaves you feeling less motivated, and that's okay for a little while. Re-situate, figure out what you want, and keep going. You just gotta keep moving!
I'm thinking of y'all as you gear up for finals and finish out the semester strong. Use that motivation and remember your end goal. While you may not want the struggle to reach it, remember how much you crave that goal at the top of the hill, and keep on grinding until you reach it.
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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