June 10, 2022
by Hannah Hawkesworth, American Hereford Association Youth Activities Intern
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to get cattle experience under my belt. Whether that’s working for a breed association or just working in the cattle show barn, I wanted it on my resume. From meeting the people to making new connections, the cattle industry is a sector I always wanted to branch into.
When I first told my family and friends I was applying to be an intern with the American Hereford Association (AHA), many had the same response; why cattle? My lack of hands-on experience in the cattle industry was considered a drawback compared to my competitors, and many thought it was a waste of time to apply for something they doubted I would receive. This is not to say my family and friends have not supported any crazy dream I’ve had, but this response I had heard before and was not uncommon when this became my next crazy dream.
As someone who didn’t show at a national level growing up, didn’t have the highest dollar setup in the barn and who’s family name wasn’t already known across the country, I’ve felt a certain barrier in the entry as I began to venture out. Whether it was applying to work for a cattle breed association or as I ran for the National Junior Swine Association’s Junior Board of Directors, I continuously compared myself to others and did not believe I measured up.
I’ll be the first to admit, I am guilty of letting negative thoughts tear down my confidence and even sometimes let them hold me back. I do not think I am alone in these intrusive thoughts. It’s easy to let the fear of failure and the judging eyes of society hold us back from reaching our goals, but why do we let what others think of us weigh so heavily on the decisions shaping our future?
Throughout college, these questions plagued me as I tried to find my place in the industry. Why does it matter if I have experience with cattle specifically or not? Why does it matter if I’ve shown across the country? Why do I let this have so much weight on my decision to chase my dreams? While those specific experiences do help, my experiences are unique to me, making me into the person I am today, and providing a diversified perspective when coming into a setting like this one. That alone should be enough for me believe in myself, shouldn’t it?
Over the last few years, I’ve realized that others’ opinions don’t matter, and assumptions people make about you don’t matter. What matters is how much you believe in yourself and how hard you are willing to work for that crazy dream you have.
The next time you feel you aren’t qualified enough for something, or a dream seems just too far out of reach, go for it anyways. Instead of letting the overwhelming fear of judgement from society, industries and those around you hold you back, focus on the experiences you have that make you into the person you are today. Know you are always enough and remember, you can, because you believe you can.