Determination. Oh boy. My mom could probably write a book about the woes that accompany raising willful, determined kids. A type of tenacity that’s never disrespectful, but always persistent. A nagging that could lead the most patient of souls to the edge of insanity. Unfortunately for me, I inherited this personality trait from the queen of determination herself, which has led to some interesting encounters over the years.
It always begins as soon as the schedule for each major stock show is released. I start plotting and scheming, intent on finally constructing an argument strong enough that even Mom couldn’t deny. These efforts all revolve around one goal: getting to miss a day of school to go to check-in. I commence by re-establishing my place as the favorite child. Making beds, picking up dirty clothes, folding laundry, and even changing the toilet paper roll like a modern-day Cinderella. Studying for an extra 30 minutes, resisting my procrastination tendencies, and performing the loathsome task of writing in my planner. All in the name of missing 8 hours of school to spend 8 hours sitting in a hot truck.
After the “buttering up” phase, I begin the process of ironing out the small details involving school work and tests. These details are the deal-breakers; they’re the aspects that my academic-concerned mother is most interested in, which I’ve garnered from years of observation. After gathering all my assignments and arranging to get tests taken early, I finally sum up the courage to casually bring up the subject of our plans for check-in day. Questions such as “ So are you going with Dad and me on check-in day or coming later?” or “What time do we need to leave by to get in line early enough?” are often employed. Occasionally, I’ll get a straight answer to these inquiries, which signals victory. More often than not, my efforts are proved to have been in vain, and when check-in day rolls around I find myself sitting disgruntledly in a classroom rather than triumphantly in the passenger seat of Dad’s pickup.
The obvious overruling pattern of failed attempts begs the question: why even bother? Why spend weeks planning when there’s a good chance that the carefully hatched plan won’t succeed? Couldn’t we ask the same thing of showing livestock? Why dedicate so much to this industry when there’s no guarantee of getting more than 5 minutes in the ring at a major like Houston or San Antonio?
That’s exactly where determination comes in. I believe that this word is too often misused in our society. It’s often heard in the context of “ I’m determined to win” or “ I’m determined to succeed”, but I challenge you to think of it in a different light. I don’t see determination as the will to always win, because that’s something that’s often out of our control; I see it as the will to work hard enough to put ourselves in the best position to win. And if the results aren’t what we were hoping for? Then determination becomes the resolve to pick up, move on, and work a little harder next time. I’m indebted to the livestock industry for many reasons, but one of the main ones is without a doubt the unflinchingly determined individual it’s shaped me to be.