Those were my academic adviser’s words . . . I was just finishing my junior year of college and we were sitting in his office, reviewing coursework for my senior year and discussing my future plans.
Earlier in my life, I hadn’t ever dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom. It was an idea . . . a desire to be with my future children . . . that hit me hard in college and stuck.
My adviser clearly didn’t think it was such a good idea.
Likewise, a couple of years later, when my husband and I decided to leave our conventional jobs and start dairy farming, lots of people didn’t think it was a good idea.
“Are you crazy?” That was a common question we heard.
Maybe I should have answered yes. Maybe you have to be a little crazy to give up what’s comfortable, what’s predictable, and what’s expected of you in order to follow your dreams.
The comfortable, predictable, expected course that I had been on was the pursuit of a career in agriculture communication. I spent many years serving the dairy community as a dairy princess and fell in love with dairy promotion. They didn’t call it advocacy back then. Nothing would bring me more joy than a career promoting dairy farming. At least that’s what I thought at the time.
Even more joy
Like the idea of being a stay-at-home-mom, the idea of dairy farming someday didn’t take root in my thoughts until college. During the summer I spent at home working on my family’s dairy farm, I realized how much I missed the cows and the rhythm of life on a dairy farm. That was the summer before my senior year of college.
So I started my senior year of studies completely conflicted about what sort of job I was going to seek after graduation. I envied those kids who had come to college to fulfill the job proclamations they had made at 8 years old . . . and then stayed the course. Not all of us have such conviction or such a clear-cut path.
But all of us can be open to the journey.
Sometimes we’re led in different directions for a reason.
Today, I’m doing all three of those things I dreamed about in college: being at home with my kids (albeit as a work-at-home-mom), dairy farming, and dairy communication. It’s not a conventional life or a predictable one. Nor is it always comfortable. But it’s fun and fulfilling and amazing.
Reflecting on the journey
I had the privilege of speaking about dairy farming and dairy communication at my alma mater last week to the college students who had gathered for the American Dairy Science Association – Student Affiliate Division (ADSA–SAD) Midwest Regional Meeting.
It was so cool to be back on campus, talking about what I love, in the classroom where I took macroeconomics.
One of the students asked me afterward, “How did you end up where you are?”
There were some left turns and some right turns. Sometimes it was taking a step backward for a while so that I could move forward in a different direction. Life is rarely linear.
It required tuning out the well-meant advice from those who didn’t believe in my dreams and leaning on the words of support from those who did.
There was a lot of saying yes when it felt right and saying no when it felt wrong.
In other words, it was listening to my own heart, following my own dreams, and trusting that it would all work out.
The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.