What matters most.

By Megan Schulte

I can’t even count on my hands the number of times I have gone into the show ring hopeful and determined, and left feeling as if I wasn’t good enough. It was during those times when I would question if I was really cut out for showing cows.

What’s the point if I never win anything?

The amount of times growing up that I considered throwing in the halter and saying goodbye to my cows is exponential. However, despite that I never stopped. I never gave up on my dreams.

Rewind 4 years to the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I was heading off to the fair with my two show steers, Blacky and Smoky. After winning grand champion with my steer the year before, I had a lot of pressure to win the show again. When the boys were settled into their stalls, a lot of people started walking by to check them out.

I wasn’t afraid. There was no way anyone could beat me this year.

Turns out I was wrong. I was very wrong. My steers placed first in their respective classes, but the judge didn’t even give them one look during the championship drive. As I watched a little boy take the banner and walk from the ring, all I could feel was hate building up inside of me. Instead of congratulating him, I just made excuses for why the judge didn’t pick me.

I went back to my stall and threw my show stick to the ground. Looking down the isle at the young boy who had just won. I began to cry. My Dad walked up to me, wiped the tears from my face, and said, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Confused at what that could mean, and still angry about the loss I sat in the barn pouting for the rest of the afternoon.

That night a man from the fair board approached me. They were looking to purchase a steer that was unable to sell on the auction. The board wanted to raffle it off to make money to fund a new parlor for the dairy barn. Seeing as I had two steers and could only sell one of them, they thought I would be a perfect fit for what they were looking for. I told the man I would think about it and get back to him in the morning.

I spent the rest of the night in the barn. Eventually the sun set, the fairgoers left, and I was left alone in the barn, listening to the fans blow and the crickets chirp.

Taking a deep breath in I remembered this is what it is all about. This is why I started. In the beginning it was never about winning banners. It was about my love for agriculture and my passion for raising homebred cows. When did it become about winning? When did I lose sight of what really mattered?

The next morning I approached the fair board, and told them I would be willing to put my steer in the raffle. The man turned to grab his checkbook. I stopped him.

“No, I want to donate him. I don’t want your money. I want every penny to go to making the fairgrounds better for future 4-H’ers.”

The money they made from my steer was enough to finish the new parlor in the dairy barn.

Sometimes we can lose sight of what really matters to us. Growing up I loved taking animals to the fair that I helped raise from the moment they were born. It didn’t matter how the placing’s ended, all that mattered was I was out there having fun with animals that I cared for. At some point I lost sight of what really mattered. I needed to lose that year, to realize what meant the most to me.

If you ever feel like nothing is going your way, take a step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself a very important question.

What truly matters to you?

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