The 'What-if' Conundrum

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

A new semester has begun, and if you're anything like me, that comes with an awful lot of 'what-ifs'. What if I have too many credit hours? What if I can't balance my classes, sport, job, social life, and still have time to sleep? (Wait, what is sleep?) What if my horse gets hurt? What if I get homesick? What if I get hurt? What if I can't? What if I get lost? What if, what if, what if...?

Rebecca Darrup, Student Writer

Kind of makes your head hurt, doesn't it? I've been there. Sometimes I'm still there. It's not a fun place to be, mentally, and it will make you not feel too great physically, either. Since I've been in college, I've learned that most days, starting my day early and in the gym will help my body to feel better and increase my confidence throughout the day. No, I'm not about to turn this into a 'lecture' on the importance of physical fitness. Everybody needs something different! At any rate, I had a pretty intense YouTube mix playing while I was at the gym the other day, and "Come With Me Now" by the Kongos shuffled on.

Afraid to lose control, and caught up in this world, I've wasted time, I've wasted breath, I think I've thought myself to death...

Those lyrics screamed out at me, and to be straight-up honest, it made me stop for a second, and I don't stop when I'm at the gym! All those what-if questions... all that overthinking. What good does it do? There are days when I've thought so much that I'm more exhausted than if I had physically worked hard from sun-up to sundown.

Working with my rodeo coach, he will often get after me during practice. "Rebecca, where's your mind at?!" He knows that sometimes when I get set in the practice pen, I've got too much in my mind to be successful (and how much worse is my mind at rodeos, then, when the pressure is on?). Over-thinking is often connected to a control issue. Just a few days ago, we were using my pickup truck for the bronc riders to practice on a robotic horse instead of the live wild horses to give the guys a break on their bodies and make sure their fundamentals are correct, so that getting on live horses isn't quite as dangerous. One of the guys offered to drive and hopped in my truck, causing me to look at Coach and say, "I really don't know that I trust him with my truck..." Coach raised an eyebrow at me and responded, "Well, there's that control thing again." Of course, it turned out fine. I am not the only one in the world who knows how to drive a truck! That's only one example of me feeling like I've got to be in control of things. How much easier does life get when you slow your mind down and allow life to happen, as it's going to whether you like it or not?

Rebecca Darrup, Student Writer

A trick that I've been working on with the help of several mentors is this: When my mind is racing with doubt, worry, and fear, I change those what-if questions into why-not questions.

What if I can't win? Well, why wouldn't I win?

What if I fail this test? Why not ace it?

What if I get hurt at practice? Why would I get hurt if I've put in the work to do it right?

What if I can't trust this person? Why not trust them if they've given me reason to do so?

Turn your can'ts into cans, and your dreams into plans.

I've heard this all my life, and with every day, I have the choice to allow can't to rule, or I can take what I want and allow it to happen. Either I allow I can't do it to be the voice I listen to, or I can hear myself say, I can and I will.

It's up to each one of us, each and every day, to decide if we can or can't. It doesn't matter how big the challenge, or how huge the giant we've got to face. When fear and worry bring that what-if voice into our mind, we've got to talk over it with why-not.

Rebecca Darrup, Student Writer

When you get ready for your day, or step into the restroom before a test, take just a minute and give yourself a pep talk. I am good enough, I put in the time and the work, I do my best, and my best is enough. Look yourself in the eye, and give yourself no other choice.

I'm not about to tell you it's easy it's not. I won't tell you it'll keep you at 110% all the time it won't. When life gets you down, you are the only one who can pick yourself back up. Other people can encourage you and help you, and some days, theirs are the words that you repeat to yourself when you're struggling. Sometimes it takes someone else pointing out the good in you, in order for you to see it too. That's a blessing! When they show you, though, choose to believe it. You've got to grab that and run with it.

Life is tough, but you are tougher. Allow yourself to be as tough as you really are, and allow yourself to be as great as you dream of being. YOU are the one who can make your dreams come true. Plan for it. Allow it to happen! Your work and preparation will lower the volume on the voice of doubt. You cannot force yourself to be great an athlete is most responsive and explosive when they are loose. You prepare for greatness and then allow yourself to do what you know you can.

Rebecca Darrup, Student Writer

Fear, he is a liar, he will take your breath, stop you in your steps; Fear he is a liar, he will rob your rest, steal your happiness, cast your fear in the fire, 'cause Fear he is a liar... Zach Williams' lyrics to the song "Fear is a Liar" are words I turn to when I'm at my lowest. Check this song out and let it stop fear in its tracks. It's up to you.

What if I can't... Yeah, but what if I can?

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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