College. That time in your life when you get your first real sense of freedom. For me, I had been dreaming of experiencing something other than my small town since my freshman year of high school. Four years later, and it was happening. I was buying dorm decorations, packing up boxes, saying bye to my family and friends, and leaving everything that I knew. My family and I drove into my dorm’s driveway the weekend before school started, and from the time I stepped out of the car to the time my parents left my dorm, the energy and excitement that was pumping through my body was one that I have rarely felt in my lifetime. This had been what I dreamed of from the day I turned 15-years-old. Several hours later my dorm was finished and it was my own little piece of paradise in this newfound concrete jungle that I would now call home.
With adrenaline still pumping through me I eagerly hugged my parents as they walked out the door, and I began campus life. I went to all of the welcome week activities that I could. Most of these activities were focused on getting to know our classmates, our campus, and our school. One of the events that I went to was called the Rally in the Valley. At this event Missouri State University students all run onto the football field and spend the evening playing ice breakers and getting to know each other. During one round I was paired up with a boy and given the question, “What was your favorite memory from high school?” The boy started immediately talking about a weekend trip he took with a few friends where he got to appreciate their time in high school and soak up as much time as they had before they all left for college. He answered with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes that showed me how happy he was remembering all of the fun times he shared with his friends.
Then it became my turn to answer the question, and I went blank. Sure I had a ton of fun in high school and I enjoyed every second of it, but I never really absorbed any key moments because I was never living in the moment. I was always so worried about what was next for me that I never took the time to appreciate the people or experiences that high school had given me.
Leaving that football field and walking back to my dorm I took the time to stop by my mailbox and found a welcome gift from my parents. Eager to see what was waiting for me in my package I quickly tore through the snacks and candy to find the letter my mom had written to me. She wrote, “I can’t tell you how proud we are of you! Go set the world on fire! Love you to the moon and back, your proud papa and mama bear!” As I stood in the lobby of my floor surrounded by the people I had just met days earlier, I took the time to live in the moment. I knew that these people were the ones who I would want to remember and that this time with them was limited and a gift I would never be given again. I had found the people that would help me set the world on fire.
FFA members, as you finish your high school years never forget to live in the moment. Each day is a gift and should be treasured. Appreciate your peers sitting next to you in class, the staff that makes you feel special, and the precious time we are all given. For each and every one of you to set this world on fire and make it a place that each and every one of us are proud to call home, we must truly live in the moment and take nothing for granted.