Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

  That was my senior quote, five years ago.  It feels like it’s been so much longer than that since I graduated high school. Like everyone I was a very different person then.

I took everything everyone said about me to heart and unfortunately there weren’t many people who had anything good to say. I was an outsider. Most of my classmates had grown up together, I had just moved from another state.  I was the only student out of a couple hundred that competed in High School Rodeo. On top of that I was in band, choir, 4-H, FFA, Ag-shop, I didn’t party, I didn’t date. My free time was spent doing homework, working, practicing or travelling to rodeos.  My senior year I was the vice-president of National Honor Society, taking two AP classes and had a special TA agreement with the elementary school so I could spend one period a day assisting the first grade teacher.  Fitting in was never something I was good at and so I accepted my fate and went about my way, but the whole time the words of the people around me still hurt.

Towards the end of my senior year I found that I would be graduating fifth of my class out of 32 students and going to college on a tuition paid rodeo scholarship. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, a dim one but a light none the less.

What the people around me said and thought had no affect on my life beyond hurting my feelings. They didn’t stop me from getting good grades, they didn’t stop me from excelling in extra-curricular activities and they certainly had nothing to do with how the rest of my life would be.

Words hurt, this is true, but they can only change YOU if YOU let them. Ignore them! Use them as motivation! Use these people who dare to doubt you and attempt to drag you down as your stepping-stones to success! Walk across the tops of their heads on your way to your brighter future!! Don’t change yourself to please anyone! You are the person God and/or the Universe intended you to be and if some people can’t handle it don’t drag them around. They are dead weight!

There will be people in your life that want only to see you succeed and those are the people you want to surround yourself with.

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