I usually try to avoid the "Did you play any sports as a kid?" question in conversation because the most athletic thing I did was horseback riding. Usually, due to heavily held negative and stereotypical connotations people associate with it, I never want to bring it up, especially with people I'm speaking with for the first time or just acquainted with.
Mostly because I don't want to be known as the girl who was weird, get asked provocative questions about "riding" an animal, or have them assume things about my economic status.
Or the typical question of 'is riding horses even a sport?', but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.
But even among other people who ride, I am an outcast. Since I was five years old, I have been learning and practicing dressage/english seat riding on and off again until I recently took up lessons again this past summer. When I was about 13 years old, I got to the point where I was learning to jump and my trainer wanted me to go into a competition.
Honestly, as a shy and nervous kid who just rode because I loved it, the pressure of the competition scared me and I quit horseback riding altogether. I think that is one of my biggest regrets as a child because I shouldn't have let fear stop me from doing what I loved.
As far as being an outcast goes, there is so much to learn when it comes to horses, competitions, shows, equipment, and caring for them. And I honestly did not know anything about it. Usually, this is when I encountered the expected "horse girl," or people who live and breathe horses. I found that in conversation with them, I would be just nodding my head and smiling like I knew what they were talking about. Not being able to talk about riding or my experience with horses with people I see every day and with people who actually share the same interest as me is isolating, I won't lie.
But with all of my experiences and my love of the sport and the animal, I'm so glad I've had the chance and opportunity to learn from it. I've learned now that it is best to try new things while you still can - before responsibilities and the weight of an adult life hold you back from new experiences. And my hope is that eventually, after trying so many different things, hopefully, one will stick and hold my interest enough for me to pursue a major or career in it. Starting college has been the most stressful time in my life, and this mentality has really kept me grounded and given me the motivation to not give up and to keep searching for my niche.
Even though riding may not be my everything or what I constantly talk about, I still love it and want to continue learning from it. One thing that I am scared of is changing my hobbies into a career because I don't want to run myself dry and end up hating it in the end. For anyone who is still unsure of their interests and has been struggling with the choice to study what you love or to be practical and realistic - please consider these Q's:
1) Will you be happy doing that work?
2) Will you be able to support yourself? Support=the lifestyle you expect to have or want to have.
3) Do you find meaning in what you do and does your skill contribute something to society?
These three principles are what I ask myself every time I find a new interest, and before I run away to the moon with it. With horses, I would be happy and find meaning from doing that work, but I don't think I could be able to support myself with a job from it. And if I am able to keep it as a hobby in my life, that is enough for me.
To those who can relate to my fears and worries about college and majors and finding your niche, know that we are going through it together. Even if there comes a time when we fall off our horses, the most important thing is to get right back on and continue to ride. So let's stumble along the road together and hopefully, we will find an interest influential enough to stick with us.
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