I was never in the "in" crowd in high school, probably because I showed up to school when I had to, and that was about it. My parents allowed me minimal involvement in after-school activities: no sports, no dances or any other "social" events. At first, I did not understand why my parents were so strict. I was upset because I was missing out. While all my friends were talking about the latest school gossip surrounding sports and other after-school clubs, I was left out in the cold. Occasionally, certain people would look down on me because I was not an athlete or a part of a particular club. Someone even said that I earned good grades only because I did not play any sports and thus had extra time on my hands.
As life went on and I grew up a bit, I realized why my parents were "strict." It was not because they did not want me to be involved in school. If I really wanted to play sports, I could have. If I really wanted to be in yearbook, they would not have stopped me. But we had a family farm, which presented me with more opportunities...and challenges. When I got home from school, I went straight out to the barn to do chores. By the time I was in eighth grade, the animals were left in my care while my dad did field work. It was a huge responsibility for 13-year-old me. But I took that challenge head-on. While my friends were scoring game-winning goals, I was at home helping to deliver a calf. And while others got to sleep in on the weekends, I was up early, feeding calves. On the night of my senior prom, I was home milking while the rest of my classmates were partying away.
When people told me that I was "missing out" on the high school experience, I told them that I was not. Instead of enjoying the little moments of the present, I was saving up for a bigger future. And I do not regret a bit of it. I was able to buy my own car and pay for my first year of college...debt-free. Getting up at four in the morning before school taught me the meaning of hard work and time management. I did not succeed because I had a lot of time on my hands. In fact, I would attribute my academic success in high school to not having enough time. Time is valuable, and I learned how to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.
Growing up on a farm has presented me with many opportunities that I would not have otherwise gotten. I owe a lot to my parents. No, they were not being strict or mean; they wanted what was best for me. And although others disagree with this philosophy, if I could go back and change my high school years, I would not.