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Caroline Spangler with cow Holly Spangler
EYES UP: The ground will always be there. You don’t have to look for it.

Head up, in life and in the show ring

Graduating and moving forward? Don’t think you have to have a perfect, prescribed path, all laid out by the time you’re 18.

A couple of years ago, I watched my youngest in the show ring, leading her heifer in a showmanship class. It was only her second year showing, and she held her heifer’s head up. Her own head was down, her eyes fixed on that patch of ground 10 feet in front of her.

It meant she missed the judge, she missed the other animals, she missed what her own animal was doing. Because she was watching the ground.

They came out of the ring, and I asked her why she was looking down. “I don’t know!” she said, laughing nervously. “I guess I was just looking?!”

“Baby, here’s the thing,” I told her. “You don’t have to watch for that ground. It’s always gonna be there. I promise. When you get there, that ground will be there.”

That’s what we all want in life, no? To know what’s ahead. To see a path. Clear, easy, obvious. Assured.

Teenagers want the same thing. A path, mapped out, from here to college to major to career. Well-marked. No detours.

Honestly, I think we get the whole college thing backward sometimes. We think we have to pick the job we want someday, so we have to pick the major that will get us there, and the college for that major, and we have to have this whole entire life plan decided by the time we’re 18. Maybe 17. The pressure!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe when you’re 17, you should just think about what you’re good at. What you like doing. What you’ve been gifted to do. Then go find a major that helps you build those skills, in a college that feels like home. Follow your skills. Meet new people. Watch doors open up to jobs you didn’t even know existed when you were 17.

And don’t worry about that patch of ground right in front of you. It’ll always be there. Keep your eyes up — and on the prize. 

Comments? Email holly.spangler@farmprogress.com.

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