Thursday, June 2, 2011

Johanna Ryckert delivers state treasurer's retiring address

Johanna Ryckert, state FFA treasurer, PaolaFFA, delivered her retiring address, "Beyond Your Limits," during the third session of the 83rd Kansas FFA Convention on June 2.

When I was younger I was a girly girl. I loved wearing humongous hats… big poufy dresses and even liked playing with barbies. Movies like Thumbelina and Beauty and the Beast were among some of my all time favorites. And if everything were pink or purple that was just fine with me. But there was one problem… I had no other girls to play with. All my cousins were boys and Rich was a brother… not a sister. Life was rough as the only girl. The boys just never understood where I was coming from or wanted to do the things that I wanted. At our Granddad’s 80th birthday party they locked me in a closet because I couldn’t keep up with them; breaking free I loudly complained to the entire party that “My life was over.” This was just one example of how brutal the boys were to me.

When mom and dad told us that they were going to have another baby I could not have been more excited. All the hours I would spend playing with my new little sister Mary Catherine were going to be exciting. Then Thomas was born… not Mary Catherine. About a year and a half later another baby was born and yet again a boy… Joseph. I had lost all hope in ever having a little sister and came to the realization that I was going to be the only girl for my entire life. Being the only girl, made me realize that all those girly things were not intriguing to me and that I actually enjoyed some of the things I despised at a younger age. One day I decided I was no longer a girly girl and transformed into what they call a tom-boy. I began to despise the color pink, watch movies like Jurassic Park and focus intensely on how Batman and Robin were going to save the day. I completely forgot about whom that little girly girl was and began finding things more interesting to me. Being the only girl was a limitation I had to face in life but there were things that I needed to realize to overcome this limitation: that we have to accept that everyone has limitations and that we have to focus on our strengths not the limitations.

Accepting that everyone faces limitations can sometimes be a challenge. Even those who seem invincible have limitations that they must face. Imagine for a second that you are at a high school football game. There are screams from the crowd in the bleachers as they cheer on the young men who are about to go into a battle. The quarterback calls the play, the team goes into formation, the center snaps the ball and they are off. In most small towns, football is seen as a source of pride for the community and my hometown is no different. The football players are known as hometown heroes, the guys that rule the school, the boys of fall. Children look up to the high school football team as if they are Greek God. Little boys dream about the day they will play for the high school team. Stand out football players receive even more recognition. I remember hearing about a football player named Robbie who had set all the school, league and state records. If the number 45 was mentioned it was automatically connected with his name, Runnin’ Robbie. When Robbie’s name was mentioned people in the community, surrounding communities and many recruiters from Division I colleges across the nation did not need a last name to figure out who was being talked about. Recruiters went to the high school to visit with the coaches and attended practices to see Robbie in action. Robbie had the world at his hands and had the community supporting him along his road to playing college football. Robbie’s choice of where he would play was the talk of the town and people had bets on where he would end up. When signing day came in February that year the whole town was shocked to find out that Robbie would not be playing for a big Division I school. He would not even be at a Division II or III school. What most people in the community came to realize is that Robbie had a hard time in the classroom and that there were certain requirements that athletes had to meet as far as academics. Robbie would be playing at a Community College in the fall so he could work on his grades. The community had a hard time dealing with what the reality of Robbie’s situation was. The hype of Runnin’ Robbie the future All-American was slowly becoming less and less the talk of the town.

We have a hard time realizing that everyone faces limitations in their lives. Whether it be physical or mental, the limitations exist. Robbie refused to accept that he had a limitation in his school work and that stood in the way of accepting help for him to reach his goal of playing football at the next level. We all have limitations. Maybe the limitation that you face is the lack of skill to play football and you find your talent is in the classroom. Whether it is in our ability to play sports, do well in school or compete in a CDE, we all have limits present in our life. Maybe for your 16th birthday you would really love to have a brand new car but you cannot pay for it. Or you want to be the All-Star on the basketball court but there are five players who have a better shot, dribble and court sense. Limitations will always exist no matter how hard we try to eliminate them. There are limits in life that cannot be overcome. Michael Jordan will not make every shot he shoots and Bill Gates won’t be able to fix every problem a computer has. We have to understand that no one, even those who seem to be invincible, deal with limitations in their lives. To go beyond these limits, we have to instead focus on the things that we excel in.

We all have areas in our lives that we excel in more than others. Our strengths can be used a positive reminders of how to deal with the limitations that we face in our life. People fight limitations each and every day of their lives. Autism is a disorder of the neural development and has been growing in awareness in our country in recent years. I first became aware of Autism by interacting with my cousin Hannah. Hannah is autistic and this is very difficult for her as well as her family. Her autism can stand in the way of her relationships with friends and family and doing things that other people her age are able to. Anyone that meets Hannah instantly falls in love with her enthusiasm for life. Being one of the most positive people I know she is always looking out for the interests of others. One shopping trip she was extremely concerned with my brothers not having car seats. Thomas and Joseph were too old to use a car seat but nonetheless Hannah cared about them. On our way home we made a stop at Target. While looking for the things on our list we notice that Hannah is gone. Running around the large Target store we were desperate to find Hannah. When we found her she was in the car seat section looking for car seats for my younger brothers to use. Hannah loves those around her with such intensity and always wants to know more about anyone and everyone. She has never met a stranger and loves talking with anyone that she can. When you sit down with Hannah she will ask you everything from your shoe size to how many siblings you have. Just as she is always looking to help others, she does not let her limitations in life stand in the way of going for what she wants.

Hannah is absolutely fascinated with cars. When she was younger she would ask you everything she wants to know about the car you drove. From wanting to know if it has a sunroof to whether it is a Ford or Chevy; she always remembers. I am always amazed by her ability to remember even the smallest details. Last year, Hannah entered high school and has been getting involved like everyone else. She is on the swim team, helps the basketball team as their manager and has continued to be an avid K-State fan by attending football and basketball games with her family. Being detail oriented can be seen by some as a limitation in her life but she uses this to help her when she works as the basketball team manager. The girls on the team and the coaches love her for it. She takes so much interest in others and does not let autism interfere with her socializing and being able to do what others can do. She has been an inspiration for me to never give up and to go for what I want by using my strengths to help me along the way. Hannah has a bigger limitation than most of us will ever face. It affects many different aspects of her life but Hannah remains positive, uses the strengths that she possesses to find success and overcome the limitations.

Sometimes when we find our strengths we are not sure how to use them. We step back and become afraid of using the strengths that we have and continue to focus only on our limitations. As young adults we think about the future all the time; where we will be in ten years, where will we work and who will we marry? We all have dreams, goals and aspirations that we want to accomplish during our lifetime. And yet, we let fear and limitations take over our ambitions. We focus too strongly on everything that we cannot do instead of finding and taking pride in what our strengths are. Take a step back and look at what limits that you have? Then think about what strengths you have that can outweigh the limitations in our life. Your goal could be to play middle hitter for the high school volleyball team but find that you lack the height and vertical it takes to play middle hitter. But you are quick on your feet, great at being a consistent team player and were meant to be the setter. Maybe you want to compete in the Farm Business Management CDE but do not enjoy math or memorization. When instead you have a passion for the livestock industry and enjoy making tough decisions realizing that livestock judging is for you. Focus on the strengths that you possess, step up and work to eliminate the negativity of the limitations in our lives that stand in the way of the goals that we have. Life has so much to offer for us to just give up because our term as chapter president is over, we did not make the cut for the school play or because we lost the job that we loved the most. Positivity needs to outweigh the negative aspects of the limitations that we face.

Sure, in life, things will slow us down but we have to keep the positive attitude like Hannah to work to overcome the limitations. I’m too old to do this. I’m too short for that. My muscles aren’t big like that guys’. I’m not pretty like her. Why are you letting these things slow you down?! To overcome those limitations we again have to find our strengths and figure out what we were meant to do in life. We cannot live life on the back burner and not pay attention to what things we most desire to accomplish. Hannah has inspired me to look at the obstacles and limitations in my life and not be afraid. We cannot be afraid of the hard work, dedication and ambition that we have to possess to overcome the limits in front of us. The FFA gives us many opportunities to use our strengths to be successful. Like working on your family farm? With this strength you can become successful in the Diversified Agriculture Proficiency area. Enjoy your time walking through a greenhouse and picking out plants? The Horticulture CDE may be the area that you are looking to use your strengths. We have to continue to be positive about the strengths that we have and use them. Using our strengths to further our successes is the key to overcoming the obstacles that stand in our way. This year’s theme is Infinite Potential… As FFA Members, we possess many strengths but there will always be limitations on the road to success. Dedicate yourself to your strengths to overcome the limitations and seek the potential that we all strive for.

Looking back on the first several years of my life I began to realize that I focused too much on the negative aspects of being the only girl. People saw me as a complainer and a brat because things were not how I wanted them to be. What I had to realize is that there was a limitation in my life. There was no way to change who my brothers and cousins were because of my own personal problems. It took me a long time to figure things out but I did. Finding that the girly girl things that I enjoyed when I was younger were not fitting for where my talents were. When I started finding things of a tom-boy nature that interested me I began to find where my strengths are. It all came down to accepting that I had that limitation in my life and focusing on what my real strengths were. Robbie ran into the problem of not accepting that he was anything but invincible and let the limitation that was standing in front of him the whole time interfere with the dreams that he had made for himself. More so than Robbie and myself, my cousin Hannah faces limits everyday of her life that really affect how she lives her everyday life but does not let fear of failing keep her from using her strengths to make others as well as herself happy. There are so many opportunities that we have as young adults: to go to a great college, travel to another country or even find our passion in life. You have the whole world waiting for you to explore and a lifetime to do so. Do not sit back with an “I can’t do this attitude.” Reflect and think about the amazing strengths that each one of you possess. Do not waste a minute or let the negativity of limits stand in your way of achieving great things in life. Will you step up for the position that your strengths allow you to be successful in or wallow in self-pity because you did not get the spot that you auditioned or tried out for?… Will you remain positive even if you are the shortest person on the basketball team or don’t have the financial capabilities to get everything that you want in life? If you choose to accept the limitations in your life then that will make it a lot easier to focus on your strengths in other areas and excel! The limitations in our lives cannot be the centerpiece of our everyday life because we have to remember that the positive presence of our strengths will always outweigh the bad. Take advantage of the strengths in your life. Will you use your strengths to accomplish you goals that are most important to you?! Will you look for your strengths and get past the limitations to have success? Strengths are what make us the people that we are because Kansas FFA… You are beyond the limits!

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