Today is International Women’s Day. I have enjoyed seeing my social media platforms highlighting all of these great women, and it has lead me to do some thinking about being a woman in agriculture. Although life doesn’t come with a manual, if I could go back and share some wisdom with my 20-something self, these are the things I would say to her:
- Believe in yourself, always. Believe that you will eventually get to where you want/need to go. Your route may not be the most direct route to get from A to B, but you will get there. Sometimes you will be the only person who believes in you and your ideas, but hang tight, because others will soon be believers too.
- Grit will get you through more situations than you would like to think about. When you have nothing else left, when you are raw and vulnerable, wipe away the tears and dig deep to find that grit.
- Work for others like you would work for yourself. Treat each and every job you have like it is the most important job ever. You will learn something from each of these jobs (even if you learn that job is not something you ever want to do again) and you will meet some great people along the way. Never loose site of your honesty, integrity, morals, or values for these jobs.
- Appreciate the small things, some days that will be all you have. Enjoy birds chirping, sunrises, sunsets, rain, laughter, a slight breeze, and just enough change in your ash tray to buy a bean burrito at Taco Bell. While these may not seem like big things, they will be things you value and appreciate.
- Live frugally so that you can save your money to see the world. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country, explore it! Leave the state you live in, leave America, and see what else the world has to offer. It is always great to travel, but it is nice to come home too. This will give you a greater appreciation for what you have or don’t have here. Plus would you rather see the Natural Wonders of the World in real-life or from behind your computer screen?
- Be an eternal optimist. You know the saying you can get more bees with honey than vinegar? Optimism will get you more opportunities than pessimism will. Plus laugh lines are more attractive than frown lines.
- You will have some amazing friendships. The friends you will have come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and classes than you can imagine. Some of them will be in your life for a day, some for years, and some will be the kind that would help you bury a body. Be the friend who is like family to the ones who matter.
- Try to never give up! Sometimes giving up seems like a much easier route than actually going forward with what you wanted to do. But always ask yourself, could you live with the decision you made to give up on something? On a few occasions the answer will be yes, and know that you tried hard, and that you had to give up before you lost sight of who you were.
- Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Some interesting things will present themselves to you, things you never thought you would have a chance to do. Consider them carefully, but try not to pass them up. Sometimes the timing will not be right, but put it on the back-burner and return to those opportunities.
- Having a career in agriculture and helping people in agricultural fields will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. As a woman you may have to work harder, longer, and for less pay than your male counterparts. Sometimes you will have to fight (not literally) to be heard and taken seriously, pick your battles and don’t back down when the times come. You are meant to be in the agriculture industry for a reason, go prove it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
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