“Hide away, they say, ‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts. I’ve learned to be ashamaed of all my scars. Run away, they say. No one’ll love you as you are.” This song comes from my favorite movie, The Greatest Showman. This movie focuses on people who are struggling to find their path in the midst of the world around them. They’re the ones who can’t carry expectations placed on their shoulders by their peers. They try to make their own path but nothing they do is ever enough. I remember this exact moment in my life when I heard this song. My life felt as if it had not only been thrown upside down, but also hit by a semi truck on a freeway and set on fire. Everything I had ever known and loved was put into question. I felt as if I were everything but enough. There I was, watching a movie about myself. “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be.” Little did I know this movie would become my saving grace from time to time. Fast forward a year, and I was at the peak of my entire High School career. I had finally gotten the handshake I had worked so hard for, I was accepted into the college of my dreams, and I was going to run for an FFA State Office. I had finally found my purpose and my passion— to provide a place for the placeless. Nothing was going to tear me down When the time had come to run for office I was exstatic. A fire ignited within me prior to even joining FFA so this is what I had spent my entire blue jacket career preparing for. My bags were already packed, I was beyond excited to take a year off of school to serve others. I was finally going to have the chance to speak up for those who can’t find their voice. This was my time to ensure others that they’re not alone. After a long few days of interviews, speeches, and sleepless nights it was finally time to open my envelope stating I was on the team. This was it, this was my breakthrough. But, there was a catch. “Madelyn Zimmerman” wasn’t a name on that paper. I was devastated. Excited for my friends, they all deserved an office and were going to do amazing things. But when it came to myself, it was a hard personal failure. I can’t even put into words how I felt in that moment. I had spent years preparing for this. I had found who I was because of FFA, and I wanted to help others find themselves the same way I did. I had given it everything I had to give, and I still wasn’t enough.
Looking back on that night, I smile. I was enough, I just wasn’t right for the situation. God had much bigger plans for me than I had imagined. Me not getting an office led me to spend my 10th and final 4-H year being recognized as a “Top 10” 4-Her and being awarded Tenure. I was able to stand alongside my brother as he was given a banner for raising one of the best barrows in our county. I was able to speak with the Leutenant Governor as I was awarded Purude Extension’s Emerging Women in Agriculture Leadership Award. I was able to make new friends I didn’t know I needed. My work wasn’t needed in Indiana, it was needed as an officer for Sigma Alpha in Kansas. My passion for advocating was needed to become an AgAmbassador for Kanssas State University College of Agriculture. Sure I was devastated, but I realize now that had I gotten an office back home I would have missed out on all of the little things that I love. This disappointment has taught me three things:
Your plan not working out the way you wanted it to does not mean you’ve failed. At the end of the day if you can honestly say you’ve given it your best shot then it counts for a success. Your failures shape you into the person you are, and it’s all a part of your story. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. God’s plan will ALWAYS be much greater than anything you could ever imagine. Sometimes the things we’ve been dreaming about our whole lives don’t work out. It’s okay to be discouraged, but it’s important to pick yourself back up and see the big picture. Life goes on.
Never lower your standards to accommodate those who do not rise up to meet them. Know your worth. Set standards for yourself and hold yourself accountable. You not fitting in does not mean you’re not enough, it means that this world needs your uniqueness. Never apologize for setting the bar high, never settle for less than you deserve, and above all, never ever q uestion your worth.
Be the person you wish you had in your life. Be the person who invests into others, lends a helping hand, and gives advice when needed. Step up to the plate and guide others on their path to their success, or step aside and support them along the way. Be the reason somebody says “because of you, I didn’t give up.”
I am Madelyn. I am brave, I am bruised, and my disappointments have shaped me into who I’m meant to be. This is me.