We are over half way through conferences and this got me thinking about where I was a year ago. FIRE 1 was last weekend and it didn’t hit me until we were almost finished with the conference that this is the last conference for so many members. A year ago, I was in their shoes, but it doesn’t feel like it was just a year ago. There is one part of that weekend I remember distinctly: reflections. Now I can’t tell you exactly what all the reflections were about, but what happened after reflections still crosses my mind often. My best friend, Mercedes, and I were sitting there in the EMR, thinking instead of going to the dance. I look over to her and see there are tears running down her face. She says to me, “This is where it all started. And this is the end.” In that moment, I lost it and the tears started streaming down my face too.
Let me take this back to the beginning that Mercedes was talking about. Imagine freshman Brittany traveling to The Indiana FFA Leadership Center for the first time to attend SOAR conference. I had no idea what to expect and I was nervous. We file into the dining hall area to start the first session and soon after I sit down, a friendly face sits right next to me. We start talking and the nerves slowly begin to disappear. Throughout the entire weekend we wanted to sit next to each other and hang out as much as we could. Little did we know that we would still be friends to this day.
Now back to the moment where we were sitting in a puddle of our own tears in the middle of the EMR, I began thinking about the future. Mercedes and I both planned to run for a state office. That night we talked about how great it would be to live in a house together and plan conferences and travel the state. I told her, “This is NOT the end.” Even if we didn’t make it in a state office we could still be involved in the organization in other ways. In the end, Mercedes decided not to run for a state office because that was the best decision for her. While I was sad she wasn’t running, I knew she was doing what was right for her future. State office isn’t for everybody. Thankfully, we are still great friends and she supported me through the entire process.
We attend conferences to learn about FFA, service, and leadership, but the bonus is that we make friendships that last way beyond conferences. Even as your paths may take a different route, like Mercedes and me, you will still have that connection with them. Sitting in the EMR a year ago, I was shocked at how long ago my very first conference was. Keep in mind to embrace every moment at conferences, and other FFA events you love, because time doesn’t slow down.
“It’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way.” The Wizard of Oz
Enjoy every moment,