I underwent the biggest life change.
It happened because (for once) I was putting myself first.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I had great grades in high school, ran varsity track all four years, had a steady and wonderful high school sweetheart, went to a four year university and graduated with a degree with intentions of having a nice salary and good work schedule.
Sounds just about right, right? Isn’t it nice and simple to live this way?
The norm, as some may say.
What I forgot to mention was that I was incredibly horse crazy and high energy with a daredevil side to me. Those are just recreational traits. Ride horses and play all weekend, after “life” for the week is over.
So, because that is what society, my family, my boyfriend, etc all wanted, I went along with it. I was in the classroom but my mind was at the barn. What stunt can I do on my horse? What cool trick can I teach him?
Well, after school or work hours, that is just what I did, stayed in the barn. I went to college to become a biology teacher so I can have my weekends and summers for the horses.
And one day it dawned on me: I can’t fake this for 40 hours a week for the rest of my life.
Why should I stay stuck in this idea of what life should be like? Why does the dream job remain just that? A dream?
Well unfortunately this did not hit me until I was two horses, one wedding and husband, and one new house into my “life.”
I finally got resentful and selfish enough to run. I had to change it. While I was relatively happy, I knew I could be happier, and I knew I could be successful in a new life as well. I was done caring what Mom, husband, or my boss wanted. I had to make myself happy first.
So I did.
Although I wish things happened smoother. I got divorced, threw my mom into therapy, and lost my house and friends, but I gained a new life for myself. I pretty much joined the circus. As an animal trainer and trick rider, I now live my life on the road with my horses and my side working together.
I went from house in suburbs to a trailer, a well paying job to pulling at the seems to find gigs to pay bills, having weekends off to working four shows each day of the weekend, a loving and hard working husband to be single and having to watch out for “creepers”, close to family to 2,000 miles and no cell reception, home cooked meals to microwave cup noodles, and the list goes on and on.
As you can imagine, life sure didn’t get “easier” but my inner peace and happiness just can’t be appraised. When my mother looks at me in the eyes with tears running down her face and she says “I just don’t understand, you had everything.” My only reply can be “you don’t have to understand it, you just have to accept it.” She will look at me in confusion and I simply smile and say
“You know me. This cookie cutter life is for some people, but that simply is not me. I am being paid to travel and ride my horses, could you honestly see me doing anything else and being happier than that?”
She smiles, clears her eyes and says “You’re right.”
I now live my life penny to penny, but smiling as I take my animals down the road. I can see the country side change as my bed stays the same and the change in nature and travel touches my soul. I don’t live watching TV anymore. I no longer need to see some pop stars drama, I’m busy living. I’m seeing new places, faces, and experiencing new things.
Each show I share my talents with my best friends and loved animals at my side. I am forever learning and expanding, letting my God’s given talents shine and brighten. I really wouldn’t go back to a limited life again.
Even today, people and friends I haven’t talked to in years send my messages on social media telling me how much they look up to me because I broke the norm, I jumped for my dreams.
They ask for advice and all I can say is “for someone so generous and giving, keep up the pure goodness and kindness but when it comes to your true happiness, be selfish!”
Be selfish. Don’t settle.
What you day dream about can actually be yours, just take that jump. No, its not easy.
I struggle to make the bills everyday and I have debt to pay off and joint aches like you wouldn’t believe, but with great risks comes great reward. It may not be instantly but keep your head up and know you will get there.
You can’t succeed if you never tried in the first place. When it doesn’t work like you expected, keep trying and smile at the fact that you were even brave enough to try! People always small talk with the “Oh one day I would love to do this, this, and this, however that seems near impossible.”
Slap them. You want it, you can do it! If they want it, they can do it! Dreams are your building block. They are your subconscious mind flashing pictures of what it wants, what will fulfill you. Don’t keep them just in your mind, stick them on the drawing board and just start!
Look at the people who made those changes.
Those actors or athletes who grew up in poor neighborhoods, or whatever their success story is.
There is no reason you can’t be like them. They are no different than you or I, they just were a bit selfish and took that jump. They say money can’t buy happiness and damn are they right.
Live your life a good person, I don’t mean be selfish always asking for more money or greed, but don’t be co-dependent on others happiness, put yours first, and don’t be afraid to try. We all have the same 24 hours, ask yourself everyday, what did you do today to get you closer to your dream? If you have no answer, its time to reevaluate.
Break those chains or the norm and run! You won’t be sorry you did!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via Flickr