Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Run...for more than just the finish line!

for more than just the finish line!
Conference Cross-Country Meet
“Five minutes until race time!” shouted the starter. My cross-country team frantically tried to find me, and at that time I thought it was unfortunate that they did. I was a terrified eighth-grader being pulled out of hiding for my very first cross-country race. Intense training for only two weeks before my first meet frightened me. With a team of only seven girls, I was automatically placed on varsity. After a pep talk from my coach and team, I lined up at the starting line with about eighty other girls. My legs started to shake, and I instantly felt sick. Little did I know that the feeling of self-doubt and fear of failure would be an ongoing struggle throughout all aspects of my high school career.
Throughout the eighth and ninth grade, I was afraid of running because I was afraid of trying something new and getting out of my comfort zone. Once I overcame this struggle, a new one started to form. The remaining years of high school  were challenging because I put all of my identity into my accomplishments in sports. They defined me. In my mind if I had a great race, then I was a great person. However, if I had a terrible race, then something must be wrong with me. I put so much pressure on myself that I started to let not only my sports but my fears define me. I started to become afraid to try anything new because the chance of failure always seemed high.
Being overwhelmed with not being able to perform my best due to fear left me with  anxiety the beginning of my senior year. It was here that many mentors stood out to me like a beacon. They helped me realize that life was meant to be colorful and not seen from only a black and white perspective. My mentors, coaches, FFA advisors, family, and teammates encouraged me to rethink why I wanted to be involved with sports. In addition, they helped me redefine what success was. As an eighth-grader, success solely meant earning a medal. As a senior, I redefined success to mean to run for more than just a medal. If I ran as hard as I could at that given race and still did not get a personal best, I was still excited. If I leaned into the corners and paced myself behind a very fast athlete, then I still felt proud. If I encouraged my teammates to run to the best of their ability and if I had a positive attitude along the way, then I felt like I already won.   
Running for the MACA Tigers
Towards the end of senior year, sports stopped defining me and my actions, beliefs, values, and faith started to instead. In the same way, as FFA members, we should hold true to this same mentality. Awards will collect dust and may even break, but a positive attitude and a strong faith can last a lifetime. I encourage you to run the race of life at your own pace and for more than just the finish line. I encourage you to embrace yourself for who you are- beautifully and wonderfully created! I encourage you to take off your weights of fear and instead put on the blue jacket of hope.

Stationed by the door,
Savannah Aanerud

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Living in the Growth Zone

I have had three major fears most of my life. One - getting my driver's license; two - going to college, and three - kissing my future husband in front of everyone at my wedding. They may seem a little unusual to you, but I have feared them since I was 10. Nevertheless, the older I get, the more the fear fades, but there it still sits waiting for the day to come when I have to meet it face to face.

I am proud to say I have faced at least one of those fears! Although it took four times to get my permit (I am NOT a test taker), I passed with flying colors when it came to the actual driving portion of it! I wasn’t scared to get my driver’s license because I was afraid of driving. I was afraid because I was a sixteen-year-old about to get in a car and drive it with a random stranger. Yet again, I was not afraid of this random stranger being dangerous or anything. I was afraid I would have to bring up conversation and actually talk to him. The real fear in this situation was talking and having conversation skills, something I lacked a lot of when I was younger.

I will be facing my second fear in less than a week as I start my very first day of college. I am not as nervous as I once was; however, I will admit I am a little anxious. It is the first step to becoming an “adult” as a lot of my adult peers would say. Here is my problem… I don’t know how to not only “adult” but also “college.” For these eighteen years of my life, I have been in the same town (population 842 by the way) with the same people and the same school not having to witness this weird thing called “change.” I will be living in a new town, I have to make new friends, and I will no longer be wandering the halls of Fertile-Beltrami High School but instead the University of Minnesota Crookston where the total enrollment of 2,633 is way more than my home town. 

As for my third fear, only the future can tell, but the point is that there will be many obstacles in life that we will fear. If it weren't for taking a step outside of my comfort zone, I would have never gained the ability to have confidence. Confidence that whatever I do, the experience is what counts. I would have never fully appreciated the work put in and the lessons taken away.

Scared? Good. We don’t grow when we are in our comfort zone.

 Let’s decide to grow and take that first initial step outside of your comfort zone. In fact, don’t even think of it. Start thinking and get stuck in your mind that you are going to enter the “growing zone” and that is where you will take risks, witness change, and be bold. This is where you are going to learn and grow into a better you. You might be scared or anxious and that is completely fine after all. If you are nervous, it is because you are about to do something really, really brave. At any given chance, we are given two choices: to step forward into growth or back into safety. My advice? Start living in the growth zone.

Stationed by the Flag,
Britton Fuglseth

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Edge of Glory

"I'm not afraid of heights; heights are afraid of me."

False. These exact words fly from my mouth, and they are anything but true. In fact, I shudder at the idea of being positioned at any height over 5'6" (which gives me an inch-and-a-half to go on my tiptoes). 

Now, if you are deathly afraid of heights, what do you suppose is the last thing you would want to do? If you're me, that last thing is to jump out of an airplane! Now, what do you think one of my closest friends asked me to do? You probably guessed it: jump out of an airplane!

It's only four days from when we are supposed to propel through the sky from a perfectly-functioning airplane when I agree to the idea of skydiving--mostly because I don't think it will actually happen. Within these four days, I have a fair shot to tell people about my upcoming exhilaration. However, after being questioned about my life insurance policy in one conversation, I limit the news to a few people (who do not include my parents!).

It's the week of the county fair, and for the first time ever, I'm skipping a day of shows. Heading over to Wisconsin for a two-hour car ride, I'm even more nervous than I was during the final episode of Friends! We arrive, and, to my surprise, the little figures that resemble people floating through the sky can safely walk once they hit the ground! I feel somewhat at ease until the next part . . . the information video. We listen to the man with the long beard talk on a screen. He briefly welcomes us to the site, then spends the next 240 seconds, or so, telling us about everything that could possibly go wrong during our fall.

At the last chance of getting a refund, I am ready to leave! Well, that didn't happen. The next fifteen minutes are spent on a perfectly functioning airplane. As we take flight, all I can do is stare at my hand. Written on my skin, there's a dollar symbol, followed by a three-digit number, just in case I need any inspiration--or a reminder of the investment I have permanently deposited.

We get up to altitude, and I'm at the peak of my nerves. Here I am: 15,000 feet up in the air with a guy stuck to my back, idling in an airplane. We sit up. . . .  The fear swells! We scoot forward. . . . It continues to intensify. We approach the edge of the plane--the edge of glory. We squat down. . . . It is at this moment that I have accepted my fate, whatever it may be. Less than an inch away from falling 15,000 feet down to earth, I am, from the bottom of my heart, fearless.

In less than a short moment, we're gone. We're falling to earth at a speed of 120 miles per hour. Less than a minute later, we pull the parachute and retract another few hundred feet away from the ground. It's peaceful. Though facing a potentially-fatal situation, I feel no feeling more than safe.

Gliding through the air, I can think of nothing better to do than admire the view and talk about agriculture to the guy strapped to my back. Never have I seen such a remarkable view of livestock, buildings, and even irrigation systems. It's funny how new everything looks from a different perspective.

Great things never come from within comfort zones. I can still say, "I'm not afraid of heights; heights are afraid of me." However, I am afraid of heights, and I truly don't believe heights have the capacity to be afraid of me. Looking back, I know for a fact that I wouldn't have jumped out of that plane had I been given more than four days to consider the consequences--especially since a four-minute film was nearly enough to change my mind.

In life, opportunities arise, and discomfort may be the only thing holding us back. The outskirts of our comfort zones are our boundaries. However, when we approach our boundaries, we reach the edge of glory, and the best thing we can do is jump. After all, once we step out of our comfort zone, we realize we really weren't that comfortable after all.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hidden Gifts

One of my My favorite times of the year are the Christmas season! During this season, our entire family gets together; we laugh, celebrate, eat food, and by the end of the day, we share gifts with each other. Now I’m not talking about the wrapped presents under the tree, but rather the stories, laughter, and the joy it is to have each other in our lives. What makes me love these gifts is they aren’t obvious. We need to look for these gifts and spend the time to truly see the full effect they can have. These hidden gifts are what make the season such a blessing, but we don’t have to wait until December to find these gifts.
            This past summer, I was at our State Conference for Chapter Leaders when a new game started. One of our FFA staff started leaving little plastic toy army men all around campus for me to find. At first, this was a game I was thoroughly enjoying. They would be in the halls, in my vitamin case, and even had some of my roommates place them in my room. I got some members to start helping me find them and we would collect them and set up a little war scene at my bedside. Within the first day, I had around 30 little army dudes sitting in my room looking at each other and keeping watch. This lasted for about a day until I came back into my room to find all of the little army dudes gone. Someone came and stole all of my army dudes! At the moment, I was mad. I had worked hard to find those and to know someone just came in to take them was very frustrating. I sat in sessions trying to focus but instead this game, which was supposed to be fun, had started stressing me out and taking me away from the task at hand. It wasn’t until that night where I found where those little dudes went. One of the students in my room came running to me and told me all the dudes were back. I was so excited, so I went running down the hall to see. When I entered my room, I saw all of the army dudes, but not where I left them. Instead, whoever took them had decided to stick them on the ceiling of our room. I looked at them and just started laughing! What a funny scene it was to see all the dudes in a war scene on my ceiling! That night I sat in reflections thinking to myself about how I had wasted the last day being stressed about these little army men. I hadn’t invested much in finding them, but the best ending came with a scene I will never forget. 
            Life is a lot like these army men. We do not purchase the laughter we receive, the people in our lives, or even the moments we cherish so much. We may have invested in them, but we never are the owners of such moments. Because we aren’t the owners, sometimes things happen that we wish would never happen. Maybe it’s a loss of a friend, getting a bad haircut, or anything that puts us down in life. But in the end, we are just travelers in this life and can only ride along as it happens. 
            However, it is our choice to look for the hidden gifts. If we get a bad haircut, we can choose to laugh about it. If we get a bad grade on a test, we can look at what we got wrong and see where we can improve. If our favorite water bottle breaks, we can give it the best memorial a water bottle has ever had and let it bring us closer to the things we still have in life. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the hidden gifts are what make life worth living.

Stationed by the Rising Sun,
Lafe Aarsvold