The Road I Traveled Series

Introducing “The Road I Traveled” Series

the road i traveled

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

Analogies and metaphors about maps, roads, path, journeys and footsteps are all a dime a dozen. The one that has always stuck with me though, was made by my high school ag teacher. I remember sitting on the table in the empty classroom after school one day, ranting – something I did often through my senior year – about what was coming next, decisions I had to make and what I fretted most about: the things I could not control.

Aside from my parents, he was my go-to person to talk through things with. Always patient, but never wavered from telling it to me straight. That day he was a little frustrated with me and finally stopped my rant mid-sentence, walked up to the white board and drew a long curvy line. He said something similar to, “Amanda, this is your life, one long winding road. On this road you have a lot of destinations (goals) and inevitable life mile-markers that you will pass. Some people will never leave the passenger seat and others are only on the trip with you for a short distance. There will be mountains and valleys that challenge you along the way, adding wear and tear to your car, adding character and memories. And sometimes you will take an exit for a pit stop (drawing a branch on the curvy line). What I want you to understand is that there is always an entrance ramp to get back on the main road. There are a lot of decisions that we have to make in life that don’t have a right or wrong answer, and even more where we don’t have control over the situation. If the coffee is good, maybe you will stay awhile, but if it is bad, it is not the end of the road, it is just a stop along the way, a detour (connecting the brand back to the curvy line). As the driver, the only things that matter are that you keep traveling forward and if you aren’t enjoying the scenery along the way, you do have the control to make a turn at the cross roads.” Over the past seven years that conversation continued to stick with me, and had guided me through a lot of decisions and experiences.

Now in my mid 20’s and two years into the “post-grad life,” I find myself having another conversation over and over with people. At this stage of life, from our mid 20’s to 30’s or so, I see my peers going in so many different directions and many of us seem to be wondering, “how did I get here, and is it right or wrong?” Some go straight to their dream job or onto more education, and others still do not know what they want to be when they grow up. Some get married and start a family, and others cannot even imagine being responsible for anyone besides themselves. Naturally, we often start comparing each other, either judging others or feeling inadequate ourselves, even though we should know better than to compare apples to oranges, or zucchini to Diet Coke for that matter. But we are a generation raised on goal-setting and needing validation, so how do we even begin to define what success is at this stage of life?

I love to write and for me blogging is a creative outlet and way to scrapbook my life. I have no goals for being a lifestyle or agriculture blogger, but lately I have been interested in starting a conversation on here that I can take ownership of and I think that this is it.

As a communicator, I have always been fascinated by people’s stories, and find myself most motivated by my network of friends and peers trying to navigate through the same stage of life as I am, regardless if we have anything in common at all. If I am living by the philosophy that my ag teacher once taught me, then that means that everyone’s definition of success and happiness is different. We can still support and celebrate those differences even if we cannot relate, and there is always something new that we can learn from each other.

In my new “The Road I Traveled” weekly series I am going to feature a new young professional and their story every Monday. Obviously my agriculture network is the biggest, but we will see people outside of that industry too. Some will be married, have kids, be in grad school or maybe they chose a path outside of formal education. They will come from across the country, different backgrounds and each have something unique to share.

This is obviously a new idea so I am open to input and suggestions. Most of all I am really hoping that those I reach out are open to me sharing their story. My first post in the series will start on Monday and I figured it would be best to kick things off by sharing my own story.

Stay tuned!

Career/Professional, Kansas

On This Side of ‘When I Grow Up’

As I was growing up the only thing I could ever remember saying I wanted to be when I grew up, was an ag teacher just like my dad. But I also remember being in first grade and being given my first legitimate writing assignment. While all of the other kids wrote a couple of lines to go with their drawing for their story, I clearly remember stapling together a booklet that had at least ten pages written about animals. So my interests in agriculture and educating others, especially through writing, have been there from the beginning and I take a lot of comfort from the fact that I have always had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with my life

Fast forward to now and 16 years of school later, and the ‘when I grow up’ deadline is very, very real and written in capital letters in my planner. Yet somehow, this girl has managed to skip over most of the stressful long process of getting that first “big kid” job. Yes, I just became that person who all other seniors despise because I have a job lined out before graduation.

I only feel a tad bit guilty. Probably because the rest of me is really stinkin’ excited.

My post grad adventure will start right here in Manhattan at the Kansas Pork Association as the new Director of Communications. I’m actually starting part time while I finish up school this semester and will be going full time in June. I have always had an interest in the swine industry, stemming from raising and showing hogs in 4-H and FFA. I am looking forward to taking on all of the association’s promotional materials, building relationships in the industry and working to represent and create a positive image for animal agriculture.

Through this process I have been reminded of how invaluable networking and investing time in internships and career related experiences are as a college student. While I have been a student at K-State I have had two summer internships, as well as an on-campus internship during the school year. It is my experience working the past three years in the communications office at the International Grain Program, which is a part of the grain science department here at K-State, that has given me the confidence and skills to be prepared for the adventures that are waiting for me after graduation. Most importantly I received a lot of mentoring and support as a student employee, which I believe was crucial in my development as a communicator. If I were to give any piece of advice to other students, it would definitely be to seek out experiences that challenge you in the field that you want your career to be in and find a good mentor. Having someone that believes in your potential and supports you through that process also helps develop you as a person.

My Final Project at IGP. Click here to go to the flip book.
My Final Project at IGP. Click here to go to the flip book.

I am pretty excited to see what life in Manhattan not as a student is going to be like. I do have some concerns about transitioning from college to career, especially when I am going to continue to live with my college roommates for the first year. But I have good people around me and I really like Manhattan. Moving here four years ago for school wouldn’t have been an option if I didn’t. So I think that it is  ‘real fine place to start.’

– Amanda