"You Find Out Who Your Friends Are"

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

When you want to go on a crazy, no-purpose road trip at ungodly hours of the night, who do you call? What about when something's wrong, and you're not sure you can lift your head and take one more step – who's there for you then? At this point in life, you might be realizing the truth to the statement that your high school friends may not always be your closest friends…a little intimidating, isn't it??

Long View

Okay, I sound quite depressing right now, just jumping in like that! Here's what's been on my mind lately:

Being a member of my college rodeo team, we had to have team pictures taken the week of our first college rodeo. Looking as I went through the process for the third time, I got thinking about the difference in our team this year in comparison to the teams we had the last two years. Two years ago, there were 44 kids on our team, and we really didn't do very well at the rodeos, and oh my goodness, talk about some drama! Especially in such a small town (Tucumcari, New Mexico supposedly has a population of about 5,000, which everyone says doubles when college is in session), there wasn't much to do besides find trouble after practice was over.

2015 Team

Last year, we started with 33 athletes, and by the end of the fall semester we were down to 28 – by the end of the spring, there were only 10 of us who traveled to the last college rodeo of the season.

2016 Team

This year? There are 13 of us (lucky number, right?) who, for the most part, have been encouraging, helping, pushing, and fighting for each other. The 13 of us this year are closer than the team has ever been, and it has shown already in our improvement. In and out of the practice pen, we're there for each other, whether it's with classwork, supper at night, a ride to the college or rodeo, feeding horses while someone's away, and figuring out the challenges we face in the arena and in life.

2017 Team

Small but mighty. That's our theory this year.

I've been learning that the same holds true with our friends. Granted, my friends are mostly on the rodeo team, but either way, having a couple people I can call at absolutely any time, no matter what I need, is such a blessing. That isn't to say that a person shouldn't try to get along with others the best he can, but to not necessarily worry if someone doesn't like you, at least if you didn't give them a reason not to.


College can be a huge perspective shift in so many ways. You're figuring out what you want from life, and how you're going to get it. While you might stay in touch with high school friends, or kids you grew up with, you also might not hear much from anyone after you leave your hometown… and that is okay. As you get to college and start to explore the world (literally, if you're coming to the United States to study!), you'll find that the farther you roam, the more people you meet, the more you find out that there are people who will push you, drive you, and motivate you to be better than you ever dreamed you could be. You'll find people who, when you're ready to quit, can raise an eyebrow at you that no one else even notices, and you'll be gritting your teeth and have the passion to give it one more shot – and one more after that – and one more when you think you can't possibly try on more time. You'll find the people who will give you a hug or send you a text at just the right time without knowing you were struggling with something, and those are the people who will continue to be there for you for the rest of your life.


Leaving home, friends, and family can be all kinds of scary, especially when you're going to an entirely new place where you don't know anyone.

But, believe me, if a small-town, shy, naďve Pennsylvania girl can make it – better than just 'make it' – through two years in New Mexico, where she didn't know anyone but a rodeo coach when she got to town, I promise that you can do anything you want to – and you'll soar past your expectations! Keep your head up, be brave enough to smile at someone (that really is all it takes to start a friendship), remember your goals and why you are where you are in the first place, and you will be far beyond just fine.

In past articles, I've mentioned my best friend A'Lia – she's still traveling with me to almost every rodeo, even though we're both swamped with classes and work, plus she has a boyfriend and I have about 6 hours' worth of practice every day. We always pick right back up where we left off, even after I was in Pennsylvania for the summer and she was working in New Mexico, so we didn't chat much for a couple months. Our second class in the silversmithing shop our first year, she asked me what rodeo events I worked, and we never stopped talking after that. We're an unlikely pair of friends to most people, but I wouldn't trade her friendship for the world, and she continues to keep supper warm when I get back late at night, night after night. We don't always communicate the best, and we both make mistakes, but our friendship is tough enough to take it, as long as we continue to work at it!

Your experience won't be just like mine, but know that the more ridiculous a friendship or adventure may seem, it just may be the start of the best thing in your life.

You'll never know where it might take you.


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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