In this latest episode of Confessions of a Farm Wife with Holly and Emily, we talk about our high school and college experiences compared to those who are just graduating and beginning their next chapters. It is hard to believe just eight years ago I graduated from Delavan High School. It seems like only yesterday, but then again so many things have happened since that day, it also feels like a lifetime ago.
I clearly remember my summer of transition between Delavan High and the University of Illinois. My parents divorce was finalized a month before I graduated so it was a summer of change for our family. It was also a summer filled with hope for the good things to come. I couldn’t wait to get out of Delavan, move into 4-H House and start the next chapter. I was a total FFA nerd and band geek in High School. On most Friday nights you could find me babysitting my High School Principal’s adorable kids. So, when I moved from Delavan, population of 2,000 to the University of Illinois campus of 40,000, it was a bit of a culture shock. Thankfully, 4-H House Cooperative Sorority helped with that transition.
Some say college is the time of your life – where you find yourself. Sure, there is some truth there, but I wouldn’t live by those words of advice. I firmly believe my college experiences helped shape the person I am. I tried new things, met some of my best friends, developed a love for photography, sushi and cranberry vodkas with a lime. But, I wouldn’t say I found myself…was I ever lost?
As that 18 year-old freshman, I would have never planned on taking an independent study semester to help my mentor, Colleen Callahan, run for Congress (what an experience!). I also would have never guessed my Dad would stroke-out on my 20th Birthday and our family would have to handle everything (and more) that came after that day. There are so many more spontaneous experiences and stories I could share. But, one thing I learned through all of it is you better buckle up because life is messy, unpredictable and amazing. It can change in an instant.
When I used to interview farmers and others involved in the industry, I would always ask them the question, “For someone just getting started in the agriculture industry, what would be your advice for them?” Below is my advice to those about embark on their next chapter.
“Don’t lose yourself, be you! Finding a mentor and learning from them in the field or career path you would like to follow is important, but don’t model yourself completely after them. Take what you learn from them, add it to your list of qualities and own it!”
“It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life. Just remember that you will learn, grow and change with every life experience. Don’t be afraid to embrace life and take advantage of opportunities that come your way!”
The DeAnna you see in these old pictures isn’t the same DeAnna you would meet today. But, wait…isn’t that how it should be? Don’t get me wrong, “College DeAnna” was fun, but I really like this version of “DeAnna” I am growing into. With every chapter of life change happens, we try new things, we are tested and we adapt. We are continuously learning and growing. Do we ever really, truly find out exactly who we are? Life is what you make of it. Get out there, experience it and have the time of your life!