Someone once asked me if I thought I was setting myself up for disappointment by expecting so much from others. He also told me that I needed to loosen up, have more fun at work, and that I would be a lot more likable if I just wasn’t such a hard worker.
While this particular conversation happened about a year and a half ago, it crosses my mind once in a while and makes me shake my head. He was a gem of a boss- needless to say he didn’t stick around much longer after we had this little heart to heart. But he is not the point of this story- he could be so many people anymore.
Imagine his horror when I told him I am often disappointed by people- including him- because I was raised with an apparently naive idea that people should have to work for the things they want in life; that I believe that you have to start climbing the ladder from the rung closest to the ground.
That I am often disappointed by others who say one thing, and yet do the total opposite, or do nothing at all.
That I am often disappointed to be treated strangely by others because I come to work and, well, work. This is not to say that I don’t screw off my own fair share, but my work is done before I waste time on the company’s dollar. That’s my choice, and that is my responsibility.
If I remember correctly, he about fell out of his chair when I said I didn’t mind being disappointed, because that meant I still held true to my own values and that while he might not find me to be as much fun as a barrel of monkeys to be around, the feeling was mutual. Perhaps if we had more in common, or if he would have had an inkling of work ethic or even a little bit of motivation to do more than discuss football scores, we could have gotten along. Anyways….
After a very rare weekend spent helping my husband at home, getting to play rancher while my parents got to go on a mini vacation to a bull sale (Yes, going to a bull sale during calving season is very much a mini vacation for my parents), I had a good reminder that there is nothing wrong with being a hard worker and being a productive member of society. My husband was raised in town- his dad was a railroader and his mom worked at different office jobs through the years- and very easily could have refused to embrace my family’s lifestyle.Instead of denying me of living on our ranch, he has grabbed the bull by the horns and has become quite a hand. He is hard working, responsible, and respectful of my dad’s sometimes crazy ideas. He is patient, and to be completely honest, has taught me a few things about ranching that I never knew. I guess in my heart I always knew he had it in him; he proved me right and I love him more everyday for that. I love to be proud of others- it brings me so much joy to see others blossom and succeed.
I wish more people were like him– willing to be a sponge, to learn everything they can, and to be the best they can be in the situation they are in. I believe that we can all do so much more than we think we can, and if the people around us expected even just a little bit more from us, we might try a little harder to exceed their expectations. But if no one expects anything from us, what do we have to prove?
Being raised on a cattle ranch taught me that actions speak louder than words. Hard work, hustle, and independence will take you farther than any bullshitting gene you may have been born with. My parents expected my brothers and I to help do chores, take care of our animals, and when it came to my 4-H animals, I was the one getting drug around the corral, not my dad. I had to do the ground work with my colt, had to teach him respect, and had to feed and care for him. I was the one getting up before school to feed my steers, and working with them after school and work so they wouldn’t stomp me into the arena dirt at the fair. And this was done all summer- not the week before the fair, like some kids I knew.
Unless I had to work in town, I was expected to help out at home- that meant either cooking meals, driving the grain truck for dad while picking bales, bunching bales for him when the truck broke down, or helping clean pens during calving. We were the “hired men”. Our wage was our meals, a house over our heads, and clothes on our backs. We fenced, picked rock, and had lots of “character building” opportunities. And looking back at it now, I am eternally grateful for all the blood, sweat, and tears we shed all those years. It wasn’t just livestock that we gave our attention to either. If we hunted, we walked our asses off to find, shoot, and haul our kill out. We helped mom cook, clean, and saddled our own horses. We had responsibilities, and though they weren’t always fun, they got done.
I know not everyone was raised the same as me- and while I respect that and am okay with that fact, I have to accept that I will always be different than everyone else. I am okay with being the workhorse. With being the quiet leader. With being labeled the worker bee, rather than the social butterfly. I not only accept those titles, I embrace them!
Someday, I will be back on the ranch- and am sure that wandering aimlessly through my days will not be on the agenda. The cows don’t care whether I was a manager or a janitor, as long as they get fed. My horse could care less if I used to wear high heels and rubbed elbows with “really important people”… she’ll kick me just the same I don’t put forth the effort to train her not to. You can play once the work is over- celebrating a job well done makes life so much sweeter!
~Much love, Richelle