Thursday, May 29, 2014

Carrie Carlson delivers State Vice President's retiring address

Carrie Carlson
2013-14 Vice President
Centre FFA

Why Me?

Aunt Carrie, “Why are trees green”, Aunt Carrie, “Why are you writing thank yous” Aunt Carrie” Why do we have to go to bed” Aunt Carrie, “Why are you a girl?”- try explaining that to a three year old! These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked by my twin three year old nieces while in the famous why stage. This stage is so fun because you never know the questions they are going to ask, and sometimes you really have no idea how to answer them. Today I’m going to ask us to all be a little like a three year old with endless curiosity with a few why questions. But instead of directing that curiosity towards the world, we will direct it towards ourselves and ask, ”Why me? Why now? And lastly Why this? and you may be amazed by the outcome.

We all know THE person in our class that just seems to just have everything together. They ALWAYS raise their hands for the answer and they are always right. The person who never seems to get anything less than a 99.99% on anything no matter what, with the assignment not only done, but done before it’s due. This person is the definition of overachiever: “Why are you doing that, you don’t have to do it.” “Oh, I just want to because I know it will make it better.” Not only does this person excel in academics, but they’re in every activity on the planet: scholar’s bowl, sports, NHS, FBLA, 4-H, FFA. Add oodles of hours of community service and wah-law you have….well….me. As the “goody two-shoes” of my class, I was always being relentlessly teased and mocked. And because I had been with over half of my graduating class since kindergarten, I was stuck with this label from early on. I hated it. I had nicknames such as Speedy Cheetah for always being to class on time, which was a constant reminder of my label.

For much of my time in school I let this idea bother me and it often had me wondering, “why do I have to be such a goody two-shoes, why am I not easy going or funny, why am I like I am?” I found my answer one summer in reflection after returning from Washington Leadership Conference. While at WLC I was surrounded by 300+ FFA members from across the country who were just like me-they wanted to do the best they could in everything. I remember one girl in my community group had a goal to raise money to sponsor 5 wishes for the Make A Wish foundation before she graduated high school. She had already sponsored 4 when I met her. She herself had received a Make a Wish Trip and was fortunate enough to recover to pass on that blessing to others. This conference changed my thinking on myself as I realized that it was perfectly okay for me to want to achieve my best in all that I do while working passionately towards my goals.

I learned that once you accept who you are, you start living YOUR life to the fullest. All of us are given different strengths and talents, but it’s when we fully embrace them that we can succeed. Why me? Because we can be our best selves when we embody who we are with confidence with the freedom of judgment from others. Think about 3 qualities, unique talents or strengths that you like about yourself-regardless of what others may say about it. Why me? Focusing on our strengths will lead us to be our best selves. Why me? There is no one better to be you than you. Why me? Because it is when you embrace your personal qualities that we will truly live a life full of happiness and purpose.

When thinking about what message to share with you today, I was told to ask myself, “What do you wish you would’ve known in high school that you know now”. My answer simply put is to realize that you’re living your one and only life today. I think the song “The Motions” by Matthew West illustrates what it’s like to truly live every day with purpose.

  • I don't wanna go through the motions
  • I don't wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me
  • I don't wanna spend my whole life asking what if I had given everything instead of going through the motions?
How many times do we find ourselves going through the motions of life? I know I’m guilty, hit the snooze five times, roll grudgingly out of bed, brush my teeth, get ready, eat breakfast go to school, fill time with activities and homework, go to sleep, wake up, repeat— wait till Friday. What would happen if we looked at each day as a gift, an opportunity and stopped just going through the motions? Would we laugh more, make memories and look forward to everyday? Would we stop looking at everyday as just a checkmark until we reach that next stage in our life? What I’ve realized is that our life doesn’t start tomorrow. Instead it started when we were born. All we can ever be guaranteed is today, right now, we never know if we’re going to be blessed with another day. And with that, know that we will never get another today. Therefore, please don’t wish your life away by constantly looking forward to what’s next whether its an achievement, its being in college or being married or whatever it is. Instead of asking yourself why am I here? Ask how can I make the best of my life starting now? Because remember, now is the only today you will ever have.

In my hands I have a tube of toothpaste, which is to represent the amount of time we have in our lives. For some of us we may be blessed with 95 years some 50 or some only 23, we don’t really know. But regardless of this, we all have a limited amount of time to live. Every time I squeeze out toothpaste it represents a portion of our life that is being lived. For example, the first five years of our lives are spent playing and attending preschool and kindergarten. We then spend the next 12 years of our life in school. Let’s say that this tube represents someone who is blessed to live to 75 years old. This means that many of us in the room right now are about ¼ of the way through our lives and no matter what we do, we will never have this time back. As we go through life the amount of time we have left decreases and eventually, our time here on earth will come to an end. I challenge you to think about what in your life you want to accomplish and maybe what parts you are wishing away. Why now Kansas FFA? None of us know how long we may have to live. Why now? Right now is your life, it doesn’t start when you get that diploma or award or when you achieve a certain age or status. Why now? This is the only life you ever have to live and there is no one but you to decide how you will live it.

Once we’ve accepted who we are and realized that we are living our one and only life right now we might find ourselves asking another question. Why this? If we truly value our time then we should logically value what we spend our time on. Asking yourself why this? About anything you do in your life really gets you to think about what has value in your life. For me when I asked myself that question I immediately thought of a question asked of me while running for state office. “What are you two most important beliefs in life that will never change?” My answer was that people and our relationships with them are the most important things here on earth and that my purpose is to love and serve God through his will. This answer as it turn out answers all of my why this questions. I am so passionate about the FFA because it’s all about developing leaders and growing as a person as well as providing for others through agriculture. How would you answer that question? What are your two most important beliefs in life? When you find your answer to this question then the next question may make more sense.

It may be hard to believe but the founder of KFC, Colonel Sanders, used to be everything from a farm hand to a salesman. However Colonel Sanders found his love for cooking and KFC is now valued at $19 billion dollars worldwide. And the most interesting part, Colonel Sanders was 65 when he started his restaurant. I only wonder would have happened if Colonel Sanders had asked himself why this? When he was younger. Maybe he would’ve gotten to be involved in the successes of his business he loved even longer. My challenge for you is, in anything you do, ask why this? We are all FFA members because in some way we believe in this organization and the power of the blue jacket. Do your activities reflect your beliefs? It’s when we realize why we do what we do that we can reevaluate our lives and ask ourselves why this? Why do I spend my time on this? When we realize our purpose, we can truly spend our time on what is most important to us, right now. Ask yourself, why this?

FFA is the reason I realized that it was ok to be different from others and be myself. One of my advisors told me my freshman year, “Carrie you’re missing your spark.” It’s true. I wasn’t happy with who I was and I had lost my spark. We find our spark and the answer to the question “why me” when we aren’t afraid to be ourselves. One thing I’ve learned this year as a state officer is that life passes us by so quickly. The same is true for every stage of your life. A favorite song of mine sums this up well “You’re Gonna miss this, You’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.” We all only have a few years to wear this blue jacket. Some of us are coming close to hanging up our jackets, I hang mine up tomorrow. So “ why now?” What do you want to accomplish before you hang up your jacket? I will never regret my time spent on anything in FFA. However there are times in my life my time could’ve been better spent. Never forget the reason you spend your time doing something. When we ask ourselves “why this”, we live purposefully when we use our time on activities we value.

We’ve asked ourselves: Why me? Why now? and Why this? Kansas FFA it’s time for us to embrace who we are, realize we are living our lives today and spend our time where it matters most to us — Kansas FFA it’s time to be the true YOU.

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