Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dear Kegan

I’ve doubted myself.

Through the ups and downs of the last couple years, there is always a part of me that questions what I’m doing. Learning, through trial and error, that I need to sit down and write out my emotions to understand them has helped me. In FFA, I was introduced to the concept of a letter-to-self. As a college freshman, here’s what one looks like for me today.

I can still feel what I felt when I was in 9th grade, exactly four years ago. I had just found out that I tore my ACL on the football field. I was out for the season. There were no thoughts rushing through my head at the time; it just felt like:

A mistake.

I had looked forward to football all summer; now I was just a freshman who couldn’t cut it. Throughout the rest of the year, I didn’t know how to deal with the stress and anxiety I had. I didn’t even recognize it. I felt like I was stumbling through the school day looking for purpose, with only a few people reaching out to help me stand my ground. I was introverted, too shy to ask for any help. I was afraid I would look stupid in front of people whose respect I desperately wanted.

A mistake.

This is the part of the story I remember well. It’s what happened after that I forget.

Then a pair of juniors asked me to join the FFA fish and wildlife team. They tracked me down in school. They called me by name: Kegan. They respected me. They didn’t know it, but they helped me gain a foothold, and I felt as though I could finally climb.

Right now, I am typing up this letter for you, me, somewhere in the future. I want you to remember the feeling I am having and understand where it comes from.

I am starting college and entering uncharted territory in my life. As I move forward, I want to be more like those juniors who helped me find my way in 9th grade. I don’t have to give amazing life advice to someone to make their day better. If I do something small every day to help someone see their potential, I will have made a difference I can be confident in.

Lately, I haven’t been confident in many of the small decisions I’ve made.

One decision I’ve been doubting is a recent goal: to create a positive social media post every day. Each time, though, there is a voice in the back of my mind saying, “you should have said ‘this’ not ‘that’” and “no one even looks at this.” It feels like my goal was...

A mistake.

The reason I wrote this letter to self was because of this doubt. I felt the same way as I did in 9th grade, but I had forgotten the end of the story. Those juniors had no idea they were doing anything out of the ordinary, but their simple action led me to join FFA. They inadvertently gave me the spark I needed to find a passion.

I like to create; that’s why I choose this specific goal. The process of getting inspired - writing out my idea, planning what camera shots would look cool, how I would edit the photos or videos, and letting the anticipation of the final product build - fuels me. Unfortunately, I always see people doing it so much better than I ever could, and I doubt myself and my goal. In that moment, I lose sight of why I made the goal in the first place: If I can help even one person, if I can make their day marginally better, then all the work I put into it paid off.

With the school year beginning, I’d like to challenge everyone to make a goal which will help someone else. This might mean personally inviting an underclassmen to an FFA meeting, reaching out to some inactive members and asking them to come to the region’s fall leadership camp, or even smiling in the hallways. It doesn’t need to be big, but something to be built on.

How many people you affect does not matter, what matters is that you do.

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