Chasing vs. Racing

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

Maybe it's just me, but I think I'm about ready for this semester to be finished. I love learning, I enjoy most of my classes, and my professors and classmates are great... I don't want to wish away where I am in life right now!


However, at this point in the semester... especially with the chaos of life, rodeo, and missed classes due to travel... I am feeling more than a little bit behind in my work... even though all my assignments are completed, or at least started if the due date is still ahead.

I didn't have much to do yesterday afternoon or today (thank goodness for weekends with no plans, right?), but it seems that the few things on my to-do list are all still there, although I intended to have it all finished yesterday. It's like the less I have to do, the less I actually accomplish, and with lower quality too. What is up with that?!

Does anyone else ever get that feeling, or the feeling that despite the fact that everything is crossed off "the list," there's still something you forgot to do?? Are you feeling like you're constantly catching up, rather than ever being ahead?

I've been thinking about this too much lately. My school recently hosted our college rodeo, and that takes a lot of work, plus there's so few of us on the rodeo team that it seemed like a miracle that we pulled it off! Because of that, we were excused from classes for the week -- which was great, until we walked back into our classrooms on Monday morning. Talk about catching up! It's bad enough to get all of our work when we miss a day or two for traveling to a rodeo, but a whole week was rough to make up. At this point, we're all back where we need to be, but making up for lost time is nearly impossible -- life doesn't wait for any of us! That said, I was talking to my mom the other day, and thinking out loud, I asked her one of those questions that ends up being just rhetorical because there's really no good way to answer:

If you are truly caught up on life (schoolwork, paperwork, sleep, and so on), are you living life, or are you missing it?

Being a college kid, there's always so much going on. People hold you to a high standard, but at the same time seem not to expect very much. We have to be responsible -- get our work done well, make sure bills are paid on time, keep up with extracurricular activities, stay in touch with family, be healthy -- and do all of that while still having some fun once in a while. How in the world is there any way to balance everything?


Mistakes happen. Even with your best efforts, you'll forget a deadline occasionally.

Challenge yourself to be better than yesterday, not to be perfect.

Expect the unexpected, and plan for the unplanned.

Be spontaneous!

Go exploring, even if it's just the other side of the railroad tracks.

Trying too hard is as bad or worse than not trying hard enough.

Make time for your friends.

And yourself. If you don't take care of you, who will?

A little disclaimer: I haven't perfected the above list; I'm in the process of learning all of that. I do believe it might be a life-long process...


"Don't look back; you're not going that way" is a saying I've heard so many times. On the flip side, if you are careful of when you look back, it's important to do once in a while. Take a look at your whole self, not just a piece. Remember where you came from, and the progress you've made from your starting point. If you never look back, how do you know if you're moving forward?

Two years in college is a lot of time for growth. With some of my rodeo performances lately, I've been taking a look at how far I've come in my skills, as well as who I am as a human being. My friends still like to pick on me for being too serious (the number of times a day they ask why I'm so grumpy isn't worth trying to count), but looking back to when I moved to New Mexico, I've learned to go with the flow. I'm learning to be patient, and that things don't always happen in the order I'd like them to happen, and that's okay. We're all going to make mistakes, that's just a part of life.

One of the bull riders on our team always says "Simple mistakes require minor adjustments", and to add to that, every mistake is a simple one. Take a look at the biggest error in your life lately, whether it was on a school project or in one of your relationships. If you completely failed that last assignment, was it because you didn't understand it, or maybe you skipped just one step. The simple mistake and solution in that situation: take the time to know what you're up against and ask for help if you need it, or read the directions more than once and have someone check your work.

Maybe you got in a fight with your best friend. Were you actually upset and something was wrong, or did you overthink, jump to conclusions, or were you just hungry or tired? (You're not the only one, if you've ever been grumpy just because you really really really needed food.)

Another concept to be careful of is the "compare and contrast" factor. To challenge yourself to be better, you look around at those you compete against, right? Whether it's in sports or on our test scores, we always catch ourselves wondering what someone else did. Use this to your advantage, but don't let it control you. You didn't come from the same place as everyone else, and you won't end at the same destination that they are. You took a different path to where you are, and your strengths lie in different areas than everyone else's. Throughout this race, keep your eyes fixed on your finish line -- not the race that everyone else is running.


When you take a step back and look at life, you're not as far behind as you think you are, it won't be impossible to catch up, that mistake isn't as big as it seems, and taking a deep breath is a lot easier than it feels like. Enjoy the ride, give it your all, and don't be afraid to make time for a quick power-nap. Live, laugh, and love. Watch the sunrise, and the sunset, eat some ice cream, and turn the music up. Dance like no one's watching, dress up because you can, or don't because you don't have to. Don't take yourself so seriously, and smile once in a while!

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!" - Hunter S. Thompson, American author

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!

To begin your journey to study in the USA, use!