Friday, June 3, 2011

Andrew Strasburg gives state president's retiring address

Andrew Strasburg, state FFA president, Fredonia FFA, delivered his retiring address, "Livin' the Life," during the final session of the 83rd Kansas FFA Convention on June 3.

“I wanna rock.” Thank you Manhattan! You all just witnessed a killer performance. You should know how lucky you are to have a rock star as high caliber as me. The one and only Andrew Strasburg. I have been called a rock legend, idol, world-class performer and superstar. So, I understand people’s fascination with me, that they want to be me, to live my life, drive my car, sleep in my house, and eat my food. I was born to rock and rock is exactly what I do. The fame, the fortune, getting everything I want, my life is the definition of rock.

Ok now back to me the guy who cannot carry a tune in a bucket, owner of a 1996 Toyota Camry, broke college student Andrew. Some people would like to make us believe that we want to be them, to lead their lives. Sometimes they can be pretty convincing especially when we see rock stars and the elegant lives they live. It is all-ridiculous though. People thinking their lives rock because of how much money they make, how often they show up in the tabloids and because people bend over backwards to please them. That might be what they consider rocking life but when you have to become someone else, do something you do not love or are only concerned about numero uno that is not a life worth rocking. Each and every one of us has the desire to live the life of our dreams and we were born to rock that life. To get to that place, the place where we feel totally fulfilled we have to take three measures, Be Real, Find Zeal and Help Heal. We were born to rock and taking these steps will help us all achieve what we desire to do, which is of course to rock our lives.

For three years I was living the middle school dream. I was in the “in crowd” the popular kid who sat at the cool table during lunch, a starter on the football team and basketball team, a star student and valuable addition to the Quiz Bowl team. A three-year candidate for Valentine King and the guy who made everybody laugh. This sounds great until you realize that I was a student at Elk Valley middle school. It isn’t tough to get a seat at the cool table when your entire class can fit around one table or to start on the football team when there are only 9 people out for an 8-man team. At Elk Valley I felt safe, appreciated and recognized. When I made the decision to change schools for my high school education I went from being in the “in crowd” to feeling lost in the crowd. From being one of the best athletes in my class to all of a sudden having mediocre skills. Once one of the four most popular guys in my class… out of four, to being just a strange face. It took a long time for me to adjust to my new bigger school. For a while it was as if I was not myself anymore. I did not know how to fit in or who to be. My biggest struggle was overcoming my fear of showing my new classmates who I was. For the first half of that school year I was terrified of being open and letting others get to know me. I was afraid of being judged, laughed at, labeled as a weirdo, unaccepted, or disliked… afraid of being real. Desperately wanting to just go back to my old school, where people knew me and liked me. We all have shared these uncertainties at times. Life has a cruel habit of putting us in situations where we feel uncomfortable with the person we are or afraid of letting people get to know the real us. Like being a poor athlete in a group of athletes, being a student that struggles in a group of scholars, a vegetarian in a group of meat eaters, or a Christian surrounded by non-believers. The truth is we probably all have been hesitant to let the real us shine through, wished to be like everybody else or even as extreme as wishing we were somebody else. Ever tried to act like the popular girl, pretend to be tough like the defensive tackle or wanted to be a celebrity singer or actor. We are not being real if we wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and try to be someone we are not or hide who we really are. Be real. Stop thinking about the person you have been trying to be or the person you are scared of letting others see. Remember to be you. The person you want to be. The person you are. If you love art, let others know that. If you like bug judging then sign-up for an entomology contest. If you like watching romantic comedies then let’s plan a movie night. Be real, because to truly rock, to live the life we were born to rock, we cannot go around being someone we are not. The true rock legends are not phony imitations or copies of other groups; they are the unique and original singers and bands like the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones. The secret to rocking your life is to live your life being real.

Being real is a great start to living the life you were born to rock but now we must discover what we are to do with our lives. We must discover what we are passionate about, we must find zeal. I am one of those individuals who enjoys running long distances, find it relaxing and always feel great after covering some miles in my good ole Nike sneakers. One of my high school cross country teammates and friend was Lane Boyer. Lane had won first place at the 3A state cross-country championships all four years in high school. He was a devoted, first-class runner. Lane took an entirely different approach to running than I did. Where I still had the normal attitude that high school students should have after being told they are running 6 or 7 miles for practice in the hot summer heat, Lane’s reaction was completely different. his reaction is more accurately expressed as, “Woo Hoo, seven miles let’s go team and for fun when we are done we can run 5 more!” I know it was disgusting. Lane was not exactly insane but he was most definitely crazy about running. He did not just enjoy running like I did; he loved it. Every morning Lane woke up early so he could run several miles before school. Sometimes he even liked to run to school from his house out in the country. I could never fully understand his obsession and love of running. It was easy to see that he was passionate about it. Zeal is defined as enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal. As impressive as Lane’s running ability is it is not all that surprising especially after meeting him and realizing how much zeal he has for running. We all have different things we are passionate about. To rock life we must find out what makes us tick, what we are zealous about. Think about one thing you are passionate about doing in your life. Do you have it in your head? Good. Now trust in it, invest your time in it and believe it can come true. If you know what you love then find a way to do it; then you will be living the life you were born to rock. If you are not sure what you are passionate about yet, what you want to live your life for, then begin writing down things that make you really happy, things you love and look forward to doing. Keep an ongoing list so that when you have a new experience that was awesome or learn something about yourself write that down too. Ask yourself what brings you joy, what gives you that feeling you get on Christmas morning or compels you to update facebook with those positive statuses. Find zeal and then pursue it. Find the things that make you want to get out of bed every morning and face the day. If you have a passion for basketball then join a team. Enjoy hunting then make that your SAE, enjoy fixing things that are broken then consider a career as a mechanic. If you enjoy singing then become a rock star. Find zeal, and you will be truly happy, experience fulfillment and rock your life.

The first two steps to rocking life are all about us, about us being real and about us finding zeal. The last step to living the life is all about living for others, about helping heal. It was the last class of the day and it had been dreadfully long. I was tired, bored and ready to get out of there. The second hand of the clock makes its last few ticks before the bell finally rang out and we were free to leave. Dash for the door trying to make an escape from the school as fast as possible. I turned into the hallway, but then something stopped and made me smile. Down the hall was Brianne Rogers, a senior, captain of the dance team, Fredonia’s Homecoming Queen and every freshman boys’ crush with me being no exception and she was waving at me. My heart flipped in my chest and the smile on my face stretched from ear to ear. I quickly returned the wave. This is what it looked like:

“Oh my goodness, she’s waving at me (big wave).” I should have known that it was too much like a fairy tale to be true. I looked behind me and there was the intended recipient of the wave and that person was not me. We have all been in this scenario. I remember the embarrassment felt from my mistake but also remember how I felt in the brief moment where that one wave made my day. Helping heal sounds like something that might require a lot of effort from us, but even the smallest act can make a huge difference. It can be a wave, a smile, a whispered thanks or unexpected kind act. That small act could make someone’s day, make them feel better, let them know someone cares. All that it requires is for us to stop thinking about ourselves 24-7 and think about someone else. When was the last time you did something nice for someone? If you cannot think of the last time, then it has been too long. Being self-centered often results in being so worried about our own condition that we are oblivious to the walking wounded all around us. We miss seeing people that are hurting, in need of a friend or uplifted. We miss our opportunity to help them heal. We were born to rock and in order to rock we have to give. Our life is more than a selfish existence, we get what we give. And have you ever felt bad when you helped someone? It does not take much to identify something we can do for someone else. In fact I bet in ten seconds you could think of several things you can do for a friend, family member, stranger or teacher. Get one thought of a kind act in your head right now. Got it? Now, the next time you get a chance, make that idea you have become a reality. At this moment there are six billion, seven hundred and seventy-five million, two hundred and thirty-five thousand, seven hundred and twenty people in the world, give or take a few and sometimes all it takes is one. Will you choose to be that healer?

Our biggest regrets are not for the things we did -- but, for the things we did not do. Like choosing to never letting people get to know the real us, never pursuing our passions or never reaching out to someone in need. Each and everyone of us are born to rock; that lifestyle is not just reserved for rock stars. To rock life we need to strive to be real, find zeal and help heal. To live the life you want to live, to achieve happiness in life, to live fulfilled wake up and be the person you were born to be, live each day doing what you love and learn the satisfaction that comes from serving others. We were all born to rock but only a few of us accomplish true rock star status. We all wanna rock but yet few do. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” We have two choices we can either make the decision to be a person that rocks life or a person that never commits to going out and rocking. You may not think it is a conscious choice but it is. You can make the decision not to hide who you are. You are responsible for discovering your zeal and then pursuing those passions. You are the only person that can act on a desire to do something kind for another person. Be real. Find Zeal. Help Heal. Every person in this auditorium can rock their life! It is a decision you must make for yourself. What will you choose? Kansas FFA you were born to rock!

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