What drives you? Is it an overwhelming fire inside your heart? Is it something so powerful, so strong, that you feel as if you don’t answer the call then you may actually and physically die? Or is it a desperate desire to be rich? Maybe it’s the realization that money has a constant hold on our lives and is a necessary evil to provide for our families and to support our life styles.
I truly hope your answer is not the latter. Although incredibly true, how sad is it to know many people in this country are in fact driven by wealth and responsibilities rather than a true passion in their hearts.
I grew up with an unrealistic view of the world and of myself. I believed I could be anything I wanted. For this, I blame my parents. They told me if I worked hard and believed in myself, was honest and faithful, I could grow up to do anything I set my heart on, and I believed them. I took that advice and ran full speed ahead.
When I told my dad I would be team roping in the National Finals Rodeo one day, he never once said, ‘The PRCA is for men only.’ He rebutted instead with, “If you work hard and keep practicing, you’ll be backing in the box there one day.”
When I told my mom I was going to train horses, rope, be a heart surgeon, a writer, a princess, an astronaut, and the President when I grew up, she never once said, ‘That’s impossible, it’s one or the other.’ Instead, she said, “I think you’ll be wonderful at all of those things.”
You see, those may have all been a child’s dream of my future, from an age when I didn’t understand the world or even know what I truly wanted to be, but the point is I was never told I couldn’t. So, naturally as I grew into a teenager and even later into adulthood, I have continually held an overwhelming amount of self-worth. So much, to the point that I truly believed I could do anything I wanted and no one, nor anything, could stop me from achieving success. I never had a fear of failure (if I had worked hard enough), I never thought circumstances could limit me, but rather my only limiting factor was my own work ethic and determination.
In high school I didn’t want to pick just one sport or be categorized as just one thing, (jock, nerd, overachiever, aggie, horseman). I wanted to be all of those things. So, I did. I was a high school rodeo athlete, I roped calves, steers, ran barrels and poles, and tied goats. I was a softball player, a musician, a band nerd, an FFA officer, speech-giver, cattle jock, photographer, cheerleader, honor student, writer, actress, rebel, student council rep, aggie, welder, and rodeo queen. I know how to fix a fence, weld with a stick or a MIG (just pick your poison), but I can also waltz and cook a four-course meal; I will go to a rodeo with entirely too much makeup on just to rope a calf, or I’ll show up to a banquet in a fancy dress and heels with only mascara. I was everything I wanted to be; I am everything I want to be simply because I believe I can. Simply because my heart is what drives me.
When I went to college I never had any doubts I would be accepted, the only issue was which college or university did I want to attend. I started as a freshman at a 4-year university, one of the best ag schools in the state and the premier agricultural communications program in the entire nation (maybe I’m biased, but I believe it is). As a freshman coming from a small rural town where I graduated high school from a class of 23, believe me, it was an adjustment. But, I did it.
I joined the college rodeo team and at the age of 20 I experienced, for the first time in my life, that my attitude toward life, my “I can do anything” perspective was not shared by the entire world. As a sophomore in college, for the first time ever, I was told I couldn’t do something simply because I was a girl. It wasn’t from a rule or a lack of inclusion either; it was someone’s honest opinion that because I was a woman I couldn’t rope steers. Unfortunately, there are people in the world who believe girls are not as good of ropers as men, or should only rope with other girls. I was not prepared for this line of thinking. In all my life, going to jackpots, rodeos, junior high rodeo, high school rodeo, all of it, I had never come across someone who didn’t want to rope with me because I was a girl.
I’m a heeler by trade and during a team roping practice one night I had asked a header (a guy) if he wouldn’t mind turning a few for me. His answer: “Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t let girls rope behind me.” That was it, cut and dry.
I was bewildered. If he had said no because he was only roping with his regular partner, or no because his horse was tired, or no because he thought I sucked! I could have understood all of those answers. I might have been slightly upset, but at least I would have been able to comprehend his answer. But, no because I’m a girl? No, because God gave me boobs and a vagina? I just couldn’t fathom how those two things correlated. I know it sounds naive, but that is how I truly felt.
I called my dad that night and asked him why someone wouldn’t want to rope with me, because I was a girl. We had a long talk about how some men have a stereotypical thought process and were either threatened we (girls) roped better (and they couldn’t possibly be beat by a girl!), or actually thought girls weren’t good enough ropers to rope with men. And as dad explained how utterly ridiculous it was to believe that way, he ended by saying “Don’t worry, next time you’re at the same roping he is and you take all his money, he’ll rethink his decision.”
You see folks; I was so shocked because I grew up with a completely different mentality. I grew up knowing what distinguished us as successful, what set us apart as individuals, was not our anatomy, our physical appearance, or our skin color, but rather the hard work, dedication, and passion we put into the things we love – the things in which we strive to be successful. It is the creed we live by, the faith we hold, our values, dreams and goals – not our bodies.
My parents did not prepare me for a “realistic” approach to life, because as it turns out that “unrealistic” view I said I had for life, actually turned into my reality. ( And thank the Lord my parents didn’t raise me to be less than I am).
I’m no longer naïve. I understand the truths of the world, the prejudices. I know regardless of my beliefs there are stereotypes in this world and we may have to work constantly to break them down. But, the greatest feeling, is knowing it’s all achievable – It’s all attainable.
I have an “unrealistic” goal for my life. I want to share with the world the power of agriculture, the inspiring lives of professional rodeo athletes. I want to tell the stories of how they became successful and talk about the horses they ride. I want to inspire and motivate. I also want to be one of those champions. I want to make my living inside the arena. I want to live in the fever, the excitement and the love of the sport of rodeo. The truly amazing thing? I know I can if I work hard enough.
I’m not saying I’m a roaring success. There are things I wish I were better at and still things I want to accomplish. I’m still working on the rodeo part. I’m still trying to become a world champion and make my living in the arena. I’m still trying work my way into the elite group of professional rodeo athletes of this world, and it’s true I have a long road ahead of me before it becomes a reality. But, the important thing is that I’m trying. I’m not allowing myself to be confined by ‘what I should do.’ Or what society thinks I should be. Married with a family at 25 simply because I’m a woman? No, thank you. Sure, being married and raising a family are admirable things and if that is your dream, then props to you lady! I send my highest respect to those people, but for me I have a different horizon. I’m not saying those things will never happen, in fact I hope someday they do, but to be controlled by stereotypes and societal views that because I’m a 20-something woman it’s time for me to focus my attention to family-making? I think I’ll pass. The fact is I’m living my dream! I’m letting my heart drive my life and if and when my heart (and God) leads me to a family then I will pursue it will all the devotion it deserves. But until then, I’m working for one of the premier magazines in the rodeo industry; I’m sharing stories of how professional rodeo athletes became successful. I’m sharing the power of agriculture and helping in everyway I know how to improve the ag industry. I’m still chasing my dreams as a rodeo athlete, and sharing stories along the way. I’m learning and growing, and sure I’m even failing every now and then, but the point is I’m doing it all because I was never told, nor did I ever allow myself to believe that I couldn’t.
What drives you? Are you living a life because you think another one isn’t possible? Are you driven by passion or by fear of failure? Are you afraid of barriers, fear of what society thinks you should be doing with your life? Don’t be. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is the conversations and decisions you make with God. Because let’s be honest folks, he’s the one we will answer to in the end, and guess what? He’s also the one who put our dreams and our goals in our hearts. He’s the one who gave us a fire-burning passion for whatever that thing is that leaves you breathless. He has a plan, He put the fire in our heart, and if we will only be brave enough to follow it then I know His plan will bring us bounds of rewards more plentiful than anything we could ever imagine. There are better things than money. Only God-given dreams will bring true happiness and success. So why live your life in fear of what society says? Why live in fear of the unknown, or of failure? Why live a life of misery, doing things, and working jobs that don’t bring you joy, when God’s ultimate plan was to always bring us happiness by placing an incredible amount of love in our hearts.
Let your heart drive you. Live an “unrealistic” life. Be you. Work hard and remove the limits you have placed on yourself. Be remarkable!