When I was in High School I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I loved watching Laguna Beach, dreamed of being popular, and all I cared about was becoming an LA fashion designer and socializing with friends.
Who the hell was I back then? I regret that time in my life often, not because I didn't have fun, but because I was someone that I was not meant to be. I grew up riding horses, lived on a dairy and was in 4-H; why did I waste 4 years of agricultural education, possibly the most crucial years of my life, on anything else?
I remember distinctly sitting in my room one night thinking about leaving my horse and my animals behind for the LA scene and deciding then and there that I would no longer be that girl. Let me tell you, I am not the same girl I was ten years ago, much less one year ago. I truly believe this transformation made me a better woman who is stronger, more confident and harder working.
I have never feared dirt. However, I used to worry about my hair and my makeup and my clothes, and all the superficialities of being a woman. Now, I feel my prettiest and my happiest when I'm sweaty from a hard ride on my quarter horse, smelling like the goats I've been trying to force to love me all day, and have a baseball cap with jeans and boots on. I love getting dressed up, but my confidence shows through when I'm out on the farm looking like a hot mess. I used to be so insecure about myself because I felt like makeup and being popular were important to a woman's success and identity. I realize that now it's about my passion for agriculture and how you can ask me to help with chores on the ranch or farm and I'm all about learning and getting some dirt on my hands.
Backing a trailer up or driving a truck used to be the most intimidating thing to me because women have a stigma to be bad drivers. I was bound and determined to be comfortable with those things because I didn't want to rely on anyone else to do them for me and I wanted to be a smart driver. I wanted to wake up early for a horse show and be able to hook up, load and handle my trailer without needing assistance then go home and park right back into the spot my mom or dad would have to park in for me. BOOM. Done. Mission accomplished, I now know how to handle that alone. What else ya got? Seriously, though, it's a trivial thing, but it honestly taught me to be more independent and self-sufficient and not give up after 27 times attempting to hook up the hitch while crying in frustration.
I respect traditional Men's roles and still know that I am equal to the men in my life. I know that the women in my life are intelligent and strong willed. I also know that I'm not about to be as tough as those male farmers and ranchers out there and so I'm not afraid to admit that I'll need a man in my life eventually. I would love nothing more than to be able to do what those men do, but I was not made for that. I do not feel any less of a woman because of that. I am better at things than some of them are, but this isn't a contest, it's about being a balance for the future man in my life. I want him to be everything I'm not, and I want to be that person for him as well. Together, he and I should create our lives working off of each other's strengths and working on each other's weak points.
As far as God goes, in some ironic way, he has brought me closer to him by bringing me closer to agriculture. I struggled with my faith until I was so lost in my life that I decided to talk things out with him one day. He led me to the biggest, hardest, but best decisions in my life and it all began with him deciding I would become a small part of agriculture. I talk to him everyday and truly believe that has given me more opportunities and more self value.
I've become more proactive in my involvement. I grew up in California, one of the most important areas for agriculture in the world. I have lived in Orange groves, on Dairy's, Horse boarding facilities, etc. Yet, I never learned about all the aspects of all those industries. Now, I'm more involved in clubs and associations that are allowing me to grow and learn and become a better advocate. This is ultimately what has made me a better woman. I am diving into things even when I'm not quite prepared to do so, and I'm learning that opportunities don't magically come to you, you have to go for them. If you know me, you have probably made fun of or heard me complain about the word "Fearless" I have tattooed on my wrist. I still hate that decision, but after all of the things I've gone for in the past few years and have surprised myself by being successful in, that tattoo holds some truth. I'm a proud, fearless Woman of Agriculture.