Thursday, May 30, 2013

Glendolyn Neely delivers State Vice Presidents retiring address


It was the state fair horse show and I was getting ready to run barrels. The fast time of the day had been set and I knew if we were going to beat it I would have to be Unstoppable. I struggled to get my horse into the arena and to our starting point, but once there I let all my nerves go. Going around the first barrel I felt it bump my leg. I quickly picked my leg up so we wouldn’t knock it over causing me to lose my stirrup. After making it around the second barrel my horse was running hard going into the third when all of suddenly he slowed down to turn and threw me forward. I went to sit back up and realized my shirt was caught on the saddle horn, at that moment the only thought going through my head was I am going to die. As we turned the third barrel I slid off to the side of my horse but l kept pushing my horse forward all the way across the timer until we almost took out the gate. When we got stopped I pulled myself back up into the center of my horse just to hear my time being announced. I could not have been happier. For that particular run to be successful it took me knowing who I am as a rider, it took some risks, and even when it was a disaster waiting to happen I never gave up. Knowing that I had just rode my horse similar to a monkey riding a dog and still survived, I felt as if I was unstoppable.

Knowing who we are, taking risks, and never giving up are three essential keys to barrel racing and life. But when they are all combined they make us unstoppable.

A few years ago, I started one of the biggest journeys of my life; the journey to find me. Back in high school, I thought I knew EVERYTHING about myself. My future would consist of going to Pitt State to major in nursing and riding and training horses. I was surrounded by all the friends a girl could need, and my parents helped me with all my difficult life decisions……My self-perception could not have been more wrong. Somewhere along the way, I changed my mind and ended up at K-State. This is where I learned finding who I am is a lot more challenging and complicated than it sounds. My least favorite question at this time was: Glendolyn what do you plan on doing with your life?.....How was I suppose to answer that question when I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, I was homesick because I hadn’t been involved in anything, I had very few friends around me, and the answer of being a princess no longer worked. I was quickly losing interest in my surroundings and my confidence was starting to plummet.

The soul searching for who the real Glendolyn is had to begin; and quick.  The exploration began by surrounding myself with a diverse group of people, discovering different opportunities, and a lot of reflection on where I wanted to be 15 years down the road. I started narrowing my thoughts down one by one – it was like a word search; with each word I found, it added to the definition of who I am as a person, what I believe in, and where I want my future to take me. A few words I have found that define me include believer and achiever. I tend to stay strong in my beliefs and I want to achieve everything I put my mind to. This word search to find myself will continue on for many years to come.

In such a big world it is extremely important to find who we are as individuals. It starts by asking these simple questions: where have you been? Where are you at? And where do you want your life to take you? Finding ourselves gives us a better understanding of our potentials, our talents, our weaknesses, and how to be unyielding as a person. By trying something that didn’t seem enjoyable, it turned out to be a new favorite hobby, the most interesting class, or the best food ever tasted. We have to step out of our box and try new things. Participate in as many CDE’s as possible, try out for a new sport, or take advantage of several different opportunities. We are all going to feel lost as a person at one time or another, but that is when we decide to look in the mirror, and find our true reflection of who we are and what we expect from ourselves. If we live in the moment and take in our surroundings, we learn more details about ourselves than we ever knew before. Take a moment and think of the perfect word that summarizes you completely as a person: maybe it is charismatic, smart, outgoing, over-achiever, or simplistic…now, does that word also fall into your definition of being unstoppable? It’s not easy to pinpoint the perfect word, but it is a start to discovering the true you. It should be your goal to add a new word to your word search every month. Finding ourselves will instill confidence and allow us to stand more solid in our ideas, morals, and beliefs. But ultimately, it allows us to be unstoppable.

Once we have defined who we are, the next step to becoming unstoppable is to take risks, because without taking risks we will never know what we are capable of.

During my sophomore year of high school, I decided to take the risk of running for a South East District office. I filled out my application, worked with my advisor on interviews, and had my speech memorized forwards and backwards. The day of elections was here. I was confident in my interview and nailed my speech. Finally, they had the results – the slate of the new officers. I sat waiting to hear my name. Sentinel….no Reporter….nuh-huh Treasurer…nope Secretary….that sounds like me, but not my name….And for president. I sat in shock – my risk had not paid off. A little upset I went back home and looked forward to the next year.

Junior year came around and once more I decided to take the same risk. I had failed once but learned a lot in the process. Again, I felt good about my interviews and flawlessly gave my speech. I was so confident – there was no doubt in my mind I would get an office. Slate comes around and I am placed for sentinel – not exactly where I thought I’d be but hey, I made the slate. I gave my speech to the delegates and waited on tabulation. The 2009-2010 South East District Sentinel is….. not Glendolyn Neely. More disappointed than the first time, I went home and decided my FFA career wasn’t meant to be.

A little over a year ago, I took one of the biggest risks of my life in deciding to run for a state office. After unsuccessfully running for a district office, I felt like an underdog, I had work to do, and I had to learn a lot about who I was and why I really wanted the opportunity. The failed risks of running for a district office prepared me for the journey I was about to embark on as a state officer candidate. My risk taking from previous years is what got me to where I am today.

We never know we can’t fly until we try. Taking risks is going to require us to push the limits, step outside of our comfort zones, and take a chance at failure. For some of us that risk may be public speaking – what if I forget my line, what if I stutter, what if – you have to block the what ifs out and be unrelenting. Taking risks is part of everyday life; driving a car could cause a wreck, eating peanuts could cause an allergic reaction, or we could twist an ankle waking down the stairs. Then there are the optional risks; you could run for a Chapter Office, you could try out for the lead role in the skit, or you could travel to somewhere you have never been before. Taking these risks could ultimately lead to bigger and greater things – but how will we know if we never try? A big risk some of you will be taking in the next couple of years is going off to college. We have to leave the comfort of our home, school, and friends to step into a world of what seems like the unknowns. By taking risks and leaving our all so familiar surroundings; you will grow as individual by learning who you are as a person, how you handle new situations, and you might even discover a new passion you weren’t previously aware of. We have taken the risk of joining the FFA, now what about starting an SAE? What if you lose money? What if it turns out to be a complete flop? It’s not about the money or whether you fail or succeed – it’s about the experiences you gain from being a risk taker. It’s hard to take that first step, but once you do, don’t look back, embrace the risk, and be unstoppable.

After we have defined ourselves and taken risks we must vow to never give up as it will truly make us unstoppable

Justin Bieber says never say never and I say never give up. When it comes to never giving up the first person who comes to mind is my grandpa. He had many battles in his lifetime, but he never gave up on his goals or dreams. Grandpa was raised in the depression era, but he never complained how hard it was. He joined the military in World War 2, but never told about the friends he lost. He gave up everything he had to go back to college and finish his education. He raised six children and found a way to financially support them and keep the family farm running, yet no one understood how much work it really took. Even after losing his only son to cancer – he didn’t give up on his family and kept his struggles to himself. Even though grandpa could have walked away from it all when the times were at their toughest and the world was against him, he knew the right thing to do was to never give up.

To him, winning was not success, success was the amount of effort a person puts in. He spent over thirty years of his life getting up to go teach agriculture. There were students who struggled academically, but he never gave up on helping them find their passion in life. As he grew older and frailer, grandpa still fought for his independence and tried to continue caring for his family. Everything he had worked for, cared for, and loved was where he spent his final ounces of strength. No matter the situation, Grandpa always kept fighting, and never gave up.

We are going to fall, we are going to fail, and we are going to be told we can’t do something, but that should not stop us. You don’t drop out of school just because you fail a test. Instead, you go and study harder for the next exam. When you bomb a set of reasons, you don’t just quit judging; you go back to your advisor or coach and continue to practice. Even when things don’t go as planned, there is a benefit from the experience and something new to be learned. What challenges will there be in the upcoming months or years? How will they affect your dedication to not giving up? As agriculturalist, our future is set with obstacles; 9 billion people by 2050, less water, less land and yet we have to produce more food. We see these struggles and face them head on, when one experiment on drought tolerant corn doesn’t work we look for another, we cut down  our water usage in everyday life, and decrease the amount of wasted food. Not giving up is continuously practicing playing a musical instrument, shooting free-throws every day until they consistently swoosh through the net, or staying up all night studying to get an A on an exam. We all have a challenge we are going to have to face; the question is how will you handle it?   By not giving up, we show our character, determination, and dedication. To be a quitter or to never give up – the option is yours to make. My grandpa chose to be unstoppable.

When riding in a barrel racing competition there is nothing like running at full speed and then slowing down just enough to turn the barrel, crossing the finish line, or knowing I just guided 1,100 pounds of pure muscle and adrenaline through a simple cloverleaf pattern. Barrel racing seems so simple, but like many parts of life, knowing just how challenging it can be and accomplishing it makes you unstoppable.  There will be times in our lives when we will lose sight of who we are and what defines us, that is the moment when we must find ourselves as individuals. We will have goals and dreams that cannot be achieved without taking risks. This is when we need to stand up, face the unknown, and be a risk taker. Finally, there are those times when stress and exhaustion will take effect and we will want to quit. We must push through the tough moments, overcome our challenges, and never give up. The race is yours to run; the question is will you be unstoppable?

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