I found my family in FFA, but I still felt like the odd one out at times. Growing up, I was a city kid and didn’t know if I belonged in a rural dominated community. I loved all things agriculture and wanted to be really involved in FFA, so I applied to HYMAX Academy. I spent a lot of time and energy on my application, but unfortunately I was not selected as one of the 100 members that would attend.
I let my doubts get the best of me and didn’t grow from that experience. I started to realize how different I was from everybody else in FFA. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I couldn’t tell you more than a few breeds of cattle, and I didn’t know how to drive a tractor. These were not overly important things, but I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know them. I started to let my differences define me, and over the next few years I didn’t even apply to MAbA or HYPE. I felt like my differences made it so that I wouldn’t belong.
However, this year I got to attend HYMAX Academy, and I realized that our differences don’t make us outsiders, they make us unique. I belonged at HYMAX because I am passionate about learning and advocating for agriculture. It was my passion that connected me with the other HYMAX participants. Throughout the academy, I learned about several unique supervised agricultural experiences (SAE). Just because they were different, didn’t make them any less important. Differences actually help make us stronger as an organization.
Sometimes we go through life and set ourselves apart by looking at our differences. I let my differences define me, and didn’t even afford myself the chance to try new experiences such as HYPE. I let my differences hold me back. Learn from my mistakes and change your perspective. I challenge you to think differently. Find what connects you to others. We can all make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and know that we belong as our true authentic selves.