People often tease me about being from “Canada;” also known as Staples, Minnesota. I would like to point out right now that my hometown is geographically located in the center of the state. If you get anything out of this blog, let it be this: be proud of who you are and where you came from. Now I’ll be honest, that is not what my blog is about, nor is it close. I just believe it is a very important life hack to being the best you.
Staples is like many other small towns in Minnesota in the fact that our students love hunting, fishing and rebuilding big mud trucks. My particular group of friends were perhaps the professionals in all three areas. On a daily basis, we could be seen pulling into the last row of the parking lot after a successful morning hunt. As school, work and supper wrapped up, we would get in our trucks and head outside of town.
Once we hit the dirt roads, we often found ourselves lost among a long string of country trails. We took backroads by choice. Getting lost, however, was completely by chance. We never planned to lose our way, but the journey was often more successful when we were lost. One day in particular, we had no idea where we were at but realized we were surrounded by beautiful scenery. My friend Hayley and I jumped out of the vehicle and had one of the best conversations ever. At the time, it was much needed, and even though we were physically lost, I felt so found on the inside. Being lost by chance often results in some very necessary results.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus and his crew set sail from Spain in three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Columbus assumed they would reach Asia, but in October they landed on one of the Bahamian islands. For months, Columbus sailed from island to island in what we now know as the Caribbean, looking for the many goods (such as gold and pearls) that he promised to return with. He didn’t find much of his promised goods but discovered a vast array of products we use on a daily basis (tomatoes, cotton, etc.). In March, Columbus returned to Spain and had full hopes of coming back.
Christopher Columbus set off on an adventure but had no idea how lost he would become. Instead of losing hope, however, they endured the journey and found what we now call as home: America. Sometimes being lost can reap some powerful discoveries, possibly even a home.
Today marks the beginning of the event more than 629,000 FFA members await: National FFA Convention. Convention presents limitless opportunities to make memories, take selfies and get lost! Keep in mind that you don’t have to physically be lost to reap the benefits that come from losing your way.
As a junior in high school, I attended my first National FFA Convention to compete in the Extemporaneous Speaking Career Development Event. I was comfortable with my speech, but a convention with more than 60,000 FFA members was not something I was ready for. I was quickly wrapped up in trying to navigate around Louisville, Kentucky. In fear that I would be abandoned or even kidnapped, I decided to stay put in the hotel I was competing in. As our chapter entered the Convention Center, our eyes glazed over at the sight of the endless colleges, businesses and vendors. The boys from my chapter wondered off on their own adventures, and I was left to either sit down and scroll through pictures I’ve seen a million times, or explore this place for myself. By the time we left, I had visited with every college in the Midwest. This was my first experience with South Dakota State University, which not coincidentally, is where I now attend college. Later that afternoon, my advisor suggested I stray off my path even further by attending a workshop focused on Agricultural Education. Here, I connected with Nathan McMullen, a South Dakota State University student who no longer had me lost, but found. Not only did I find a college that I loved from first glance, I was introduced to the Agricultural Education program by an experienced student. Today, I am a freshman at South Dakota State University majoring in Agricultural Education. People say it’s crazy how life works out, but it’s because I was willing (or forced) to lose my way, that I found exactly where I needed to be.
Sometimes all it takes to lose (and find!) your way, is trying something new that isn’t normally a part of your trail. Maybe this means meeting someone from a different state or introducing yourself to a past National FFA Officer. Be bold and attend a workshop on something you love, or have absolutely no knowledge of. Take time to scope out the booths of interest to you in the career fair. This is your convention! This is your opportunity to get lost. Who knows, maybe you’ll happen to find yourself all at the same time. Are you game?