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What do you want to be? A cowgirl


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During my undergraduate days, when I grew weary of formulating serious responses to the question of "What do you want to do with your life," I had fun making up answers. They ranged anywhere from "starving poet" — I did attend a private liberal arts college — to "Nobel Peace Prize honoree." "What do you want to do when you graduate," would come the question from an unsuspecting victim. "Do you really want to know?" the response from me, followed by an eager nod of a head from them. "You have to promise not to laugh." Another nod. I'd lean in, lower my chin and raise my brows to deliver my favorite possibility. "A cowgirl," I'd say in a whisper laced with the promise of adventure. The listener always broke his promise, and anyone within hearing range tended to break into peals of laughter, too. They say laughter's contagious, although I don't know what they thought was so funny; I was being partway serious. While I realize I'm far from my goal of being a cowgirl, and will most likely never attain it, there are certain aspects of one's character that I think I'm getting closer to — self-reliance, tenacity and maybe even certainty in myself. Living in an area striking in its starkness, I've rediscovered my love of life. Breathe, and don't forget to smell the alfalfa and sage. It's amazing; Montana is amazing and will forever hold my heart for giving me the strength to find myself. I felt neither stuck nor trapped when the last box was unloaded from the U-Haul, but rather exhilarated with the possibilities of a new place, new people and, to a degree, a new me. It was the kind of excitement that made my toes tingle. They still do. The little lessons that are rather important to remember have abounded over the nearly year that I've been here. If there's snow on the road, begin stopping twice as far away from stop signs as normal; if a vehicle is already there, make it three times as soon. Looking up at my vehicle from flat on my backside, which is getting soaked with melting ice, doesn't improve a morning mood so tread carefully. Ranch direction signs are often more helpful than road signs. The weather gods will smite me with snow and ice if I attempt to wear flip-flops before June. It's a combine, not a columbine — speaking of combines, don't take back roads at harvest time. When I did, I spent most of the day backing up in attempts to get out of their way. Keep bear spray — which seems like little more than using a glorified can of pepper spray to stop a 500- pound colossus that if it wasn't upset before is now — on my person at all times while out-ofdoors. Bigger lessons also have added themselves to the list. A move cross-country taught me that dreams — I've wanted to move westward as long as I can remember — really do come true if I want them badly enough. Adventure is a good thing, take advantage of the opportunities I come across because they might never come again and don't forget to enjoy what I have while I work for something different. My first full-time, permanent job taught me to be careful when asking for a challenge but to embrace it when it comes. Sometimes new tasks are daunting, but perseverance and determination make their completion possible. And when there's not an option of failure, I, pardon the phrase, cowboy up. The split from my longtime boyfriend and going-on-longtime fiancé, taught me to treasure the truth in my own heart and not to rely on others' feelings and opinions. I know I broke his heart, but I couldn't smother mine to keep his whole. I've been busy finding pieces of me forgotten or stowed away, carefully dusting them off and examining where they might fit in to who I want to be. Since some of those pieces remind me of cowgirl-esque qualities (see above), I like what I'm finding. Through it all, I have realized how much I rely on family and friends to keep me moving forward and to support me. I still do. That trait I'll keep. But I have also realized that I should give more in return. Now, faced with a new year that promises to be as exciting and life-changing as the last, corny as it sounds, I often think: "It's you, baby. Who do you want to be?" I'm sticking with cowgirl. How about you? (Campbell is a reporter at the Havre Daily News. She can be reached at [email protected] Com)


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