Earlier this year, my mentor, Chelsea, took me to one of her all time favorite restaurants. We arrived, and she told me I had to try one of her favorite dishes--a gyro. I’d never had a gyro before. I wondered: What if it tasted weird? What if I hated it--how embarrassing would that be? But, I ordered it and decided to give it a try.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered something you’ve never tried before? Then when your server brings you your meal, you stare at it for awhile and wonder how it will taste?
Many of us have been in this situation and we’ve learned: the only way to find out is to try it.
Eventually, our food came, and staring up at me from my plate was steaming lamb meat, weird-looking pita bread, shredded lettuce, and some unfamiliar white sauce (which I later found out was cucumber sauce). Chelsea started eating and I watched with apprehension. She looked at me and said, “Oh come on! Just try it!”
I did and I loved it.
A lot of times in life, we’ll find ourselves in this situation. We’re nervous. We don’t want to try this new food, this new hobby, this new dance move, this new CDE, or this new leadership conference. What if we mess up? What if we look funny? What if someone laughs at us?
But what if we love it?
That first step to try a new thing can be scary, and I truly felt those nerves a few months ago. During the State Fair, after a long day working in the Chapter Leadership House and at the FFA Goat Show, I was enjoying some watermelon with some of the volunteers from the Minnesota Pork Booth. One of the volunteers, Maddie, asked me how the first couple days of being a college student were. I told her it was a weird new experience, living with a roommate was definitely a change, and I was nervous for classes to start. She laughed and said, “That’s normal. You’ll either love it, or you’ll learn from it.”
Her statement reminded me of another time when I was trying a new experience. My parents have always loved gardening. My sister, Amanda, loves gardening. I don’t love gardening -- or at least I didn’t growing up. Mom and Dad always asked Amanda and I to help in the garden, whether it be planting, weeding, harvesting, or preparing our produce to sell on the Bauman Blvd Produce Stand or at the Kerkhoven Farmer’s Market. Every time they’d ask, Amanda would reply with an eager, “Of course!” I would grumble for a little bit and eventually make my way to the garden, where everyone else was hard at work.
When I entered 9th grade, working in the garden became my SAE. I still didn’t enjoy gardening, but Amanda loved it. I figured I would eventually grow into it like she did. It never happened. I began volunteering at the local animal shelter and developed the experiences into another part of my SAE. I still continued gardening as an SAE, but I had found a path I could call my own and that I enjoyed from the very beginning.
After one summer of volunteering at the animal shelter, I began to appreciate working in the garden more. My perspective had changed. Instead of doing chores I thought were pointless, I was helping my family do something really cool. I realized we were a part of the larger agricultural community, and our farm story is one of many other unique stories to share.
It took taking a step back for me to realize that although I had always been doing an activity I never loved, there was much to be learned from it. That night at the State Fair, I was nervous for school to begin and to continue being away from home. Now, one month in, I learned from all of the “scary” experiences I have had so far, and I am loving every second of it. Opportunities are going to knock all throughout our lives, and we have a choice to accept them or let them pass. Not every opportunity will work out the way we anticipate, but we can choose to love it or to learn from it. Eventually, we will find our own paths and discover how we can love our experiences and learn from them too.
What is one thing you are nervous about trying? What have you learned from your past experiences? How will you “love it or learn from it” this year?
Stationed by the ear of corn,