Life on the Farm and Acceptance
Growing up on a farm in rural Wisconsin was never something I was proud of, much less willing to accept as part of my identity. Life on a dairy farm was demanding, hard, dirty, and sometimes very dangerous. It was the job of my youth, to wake up at sunrise, work on the farm, go to school, work on the farm, homework, then off to bedtime. I was ashamed and embarrassed to be a farm kid and longed for what I assumed to be the simple life of a town kid. All I wanted was to be just a kid.
Where did this innate rejection to the farming lifestyle come from?
Fear of Judgment
Foremost from the presumed and actual judgment of my peers. I can still remember days where I would miss the school bus, literally watching it as it drove away in front of the farm, as I chased down the cows that had gotten out. Breaking through their own gated barriers to trample over mine all the while being witnessed by my classmates. Many of them also farmers, but it didn’t help the embarrassment of walking into school 2 hours late and seeing your classmates give you sideways looks, little snickers and pity. Yes, pity because they had been there too.
This fear of judgment stayed with me until my late 30s. I wanted to believe that I was a city person who just happened to grow up on a farm. I wanted to reject the farm girl, tell her she didn’t matter, and that life didn’t shape who I was. Yes, I believe it to be a different life because I had worked so hard to distance myself emotionally and physically from it. But it wasn’t until I accepted my early years as part of my identity that my life really became the life that inspired me.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
My childhood defense? Become a chameleon in whatever setting I was in. My goal… to become invisible to escape embarrassment, avoid confrontation with anyone outside my family unit, and for safety. By the time I was a young adult, I started realizing the negative impacts of my ability to “blend in”. In college, people literally forgot who I was and some never even recognized I was in the same room as them in the first place. To my point, my husband and I became known as “The Nubson” since we often had classes together. It felt horrible to be a silent, non-existent entity just floating around in my own life. I had to do something… I literally had to come out from hiding under myself to find my voice again, but how?
The first step was, I had to allow myself to be seen. Be vulnerable and accept that I had a choice of how I would react to criticisms and even unsolicited judgments about me made by others. I went to college for Graphic Design, I had the opportunities everywhere to practice. I needed to remember I held the power to either accept or reject, absorb or deflect anything. I took a step forward and started to feel confident enough to stand on my own. Empowered by the new voice encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and trust the process.
Was it scary? Absolutely!
But I needed to allow others to see me, hear my voice, and acknowledge me for all that I was. A full-grown farm girl with a passion for design, a love for travel, and someone seeking MORE. More culture, more experience, more laughter, more love, more of everything.
It was extremely uncomfortable letting others notice me in the beginning, and still can be, but I knew that discomfort was better than going through life silenced.
Seeing the Positive, Accepting, and Owning my Attributes
It wasn’t until I started designing the Rebrand You program I could finally see the actions and process to accepting my past life as a farm kid. Welcoming her back into my life. There were so many things that challenged me, angered me, made me feel lesser than growing up, but I began realizing all the positive effects it had on me too. If it weren’t for my childhood, I wouldn’t have nearly the strong work ethic I have today without the regimented schedules and managing all the unknowns as a kid. It was actually all of those unknowns in farm life that taught me one of the most valuable skill sets I possess… adaptation. Yup, being able to adapt to the unforeseen changes to the life plan, new environments, and everything I need to confront on a daily basis all came from growing up on the farm. Instead of letting panic stop me, I know I can take on and adapt to whatever situation is thrown at me BECAUSE I am a farm girl.
That’s right, by fully accepting that storyline as a part of me, I now recognize it for its strengths and how it has served me. When all felt lost, it saved my marriage I love, kept me from filing bankruptcy from medical debt, it kept me going every time I doubted myself. I do have to be aware of balancing my farm girl work ethic and I will talk about that in my Rebrand You program and in future articles.
I feel so much more empowered when I accept me for me, ALL of me. I can’t change the past, no one can, but I can choose to accept the good with the bad as benefits to my personal growth, my journey back to my authentic, loved, and fully accepted self. It’s not always easy, but it sure has gotten faster and simpler. I wouldn’t be as confident as I am today with my peers if I hadn’t first reconnected and accepted the Amy I have been, am, and will be.