Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Definition of True Success

This month I was really struggling with coming up with a blog topic. I tried looking up inspirational quotes, reading a book about tips for living your life, and some other things. I eventually found myself looking at a website of creative writing prompts. One such prompt was to flip to a random page in the dictionary and to define what one of the words on the page means to you. Under the prompt was a picture of a dictionary page and the prominent word was success, so I began thinking about what success was to me. My initial thought was that success was the same thing as achievement. It means to win or to accomplish something big. I think that this was my original definition of success. When I joined FFA my goal was to win.

I remember one of my first contests was the creed speaking leadership development event at the district level. I spent months practicing and was sure I was going to get first place. For me the only thing that was going to be considered a success was walking away with the biggest plaque. I ended up getting second place. For me this was the worst feeling ever, it made me sick to the stomach. Later in my FFA journey whenever I was asked what my biggest FFA failure was I would always answer with that experience. It wasn’t until my senior year when someone responded to my answer by asking why I thought getting second was a failure. They said that most kids would be proud of themselves for doing that good in their first public speaking contests. I began thinking of success as different then. 

The reason I didn’t consider second place as a success was because I was limiting what success was. I made it too specific, it was either fail or succeed with no inbetween. Success is more than just an end goal. It’s the journey that it takes to get there. Because I limited my success to first place only I didn’t consider the skills I’d learned, the confidence gained, or any of the things I had to overcome to get second a success. 

While trying to find a topic to talk about I read a lot of quotes about success. What I realized from all of them is that success is different for everyone. That’s been one of the hardest things to remember while being a state officer this year. For a lot of people getting last in a contest is still a success because at least they tried. For others not getting an office is success because they know what they need to improve upon for next year. It’s been hard to not fall back into my old mindset that success is only first place. I’ve found it interesting and helpful to look back at times when I have thought I failed and to find where I’ve actually succeeded, because that’s where I can find a true definition of success.

Still learning,
Tyler Kilmer

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Life's A Little Messy

I can’t write a blog – I have no inspiration. So, what do I do? I clean the bathroom. Then my bedroom. Then the supply closet. And then the garage. Why? Don’t ask me, I just always have. 

For as long as I can remember, cleaning has been a way of coping for me. Whether I was bored, stressed, sad, or anxious, I would often turn to cleaning. Just this last week, while on spring break, I took an entire evening to fully go through my room, trashing what I didn’t need, organizing what I wanted to keep for now, and deep cleaning my entire space. Knowing I was headed back to the Leadership Center, I wanted to have my space clean and under control for the next time I was home. Then, as I made my way to the State Officer house earlier this week, I spent over an hour reorganizing my clothes, personal items, and desk. Why? I felt over-stressed about the coming weeks; I wanted to feel in control of my space. 

That’s just it – control. I always need a little bit of control. It’s just who I am. When I can’t control my schedule, unending busyness, the people around me, or even my emotions, I turn to my space. It’s always been something I CAN control. Now, I’m not saying I’m never messy or never have a dirty area, because trust me, it gets BAD sometimes. Life's a little messy sometimes. Yet, it’s by controlling this mess that I can finally feel better.

I’ve struggled with perfectionism, self-doubt, and anxious thoughts for a long time, but it really came to fruition my freshman year of high school. As I came to a new school, joined a whole new group of students, and took a lot of advanced classes, I quickly became extremely overwhelmed by life. I can remember finals week, sitting in the cafeteria with a table of friends, with my nose in a book, studying my heart out right before my history exam. One of my friends said something like, “Abby, stop studying, if you don’t know it now, you won’t know it in a bit.” I can remember the sinking feeling in my gut and the tears fill my eyes as I realized that this exam could make or break my grade, and I couldn’t control what I knew. 

While over organizing, deep cleaning, and constantly looking to control my space won’t necessarily heal what I’m going through, it does allow me to take a step back, refocus, and come at my problems with a new angle. I won’t sit here and tell you to just cover up your problems by overworking yourself day in and day out – trust me, I’ve been there. What I will tell you is that it is okay to find something that allows you to take a break and recharge so that you can better handle what you’re going through. For me its cleaning, but for you, it may be taking a walk, reading your favorite book, or watching an episode of your favorite show. Whatever it is, let yourself lean on that when times get tough. Don’t use it as an escape, but use it as a chance to take a breath. 

Your neat freak friend, 


Wednesday, March 16, 2022


If you know me, you know I have plenty of embarrassing stories and quite a few blonde moments. I want to share one of those moments through this blog.

It was about 10:00 PM at the Indiana State Fair a couple years ago. My family had left a couple minutes before me, because I was chatting with some friends of mine, figuring out when each of us were going to be showing the next day. I finally said my goodbyes, and headed towards my car. I get in my car, and start making my way towards I-70 EAST. –keep this in mind.--

I pull up my google maps, because I don’t even want to take the chance of getting lost. 

“Turn right to merge on I-70 west.” That doesn’t sound right, but maybe it's just taking me a weird way. I follow what the directions say, until I realize this is most definitely NOT the right way. I wait to see if it will reroute me, but the service was not strong whatsoever. At this point, I am FREAKING OUT. I pull off at the nearest exit and call my parents. There was nowhere to park on the street, so I pulled off IN AN ALLEY (once again, not one of my finest moments). My parents finally answer and luckily, LIFE 360 saves the day. My parents guide me through how to get back on the interstate from where I am at, and I am finally on I-70 east.

Was I scared for my life during this situation? Yes. Did I think I was going to make it out alive? No, but that’s also my overdramatic side talking. However, it was because I was willing to ask for help that I made it out of the situation.

Have you ever had those moments in your life when you have tried to do everything on your own? Those moments when you refuse to ask for help because your ego has gotten in the way? Me too. I thought I could have gotten myself out of that situation with the interstate, but when you combine bad cell service and a blonde that isn’t very good with directions, things can sometimes get out of hand. Don’t be afraid to reach your hand out, because there will always be someone who is willing to help.

Always here to be a helping hand,

Jordyn Wickard

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Overachiever, High Expectations

When you get into state office, you take this test called “Insights”. This tells you your top five qualities and at the top of mine was ACHIEVER. Now for some people this may have seemed like a really good thing. I got my work done and I never backed down to a challenge or new opportunity. What I did not realize until this year is that achiever can turn really toxic, really fast. 

I am not sure if I can really blame my need to be over involved in everything on something specific. Yes, I did fear that maybe I would not get into a good college if my extracurriculars did not look as good as they could. Maybe, I was afraid of letting down the people around me who love and support me. The truth was that I was afraid of being seen as a failure. 

So, I dove into EVERY SINGLE THING I could get ahold of. Vice President of National Honor Society, Secretary of Service Learning, Council Member of several clubs, President of my FFA chapter, then State Officer. Not to mention, I could not stand the sight of anything less than an A on my transcripts. This is not to brag but to tell you why this ended up tearing away the one thing that I really needed in my life. Relationships

Quite frankly, I could not keep a steady friendship for the life of me. It was never because those friendships ended poorly or that we got into fights. It was simply because my friendships only existed because of the things I was involved in. As soon as that specific activity ended, usually the friendship did as well. I never prioritized friends because I was too busy looking for my next big move towards success. Looking back on it now, I wish I had stayed in contact with more of these people as we continued to grow into the people we are now. 

What I am really trying to say is that, you should reach your goals but do not sacrifice people and other things along the way. Valedictorian, President, or any other title is not much fun if you are going at it alone. Drown yourself in the things that make you happy not just the things that might look good from the outside. High school ends, the friendships do not have to.

Still growing,
Madisen Carns

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Random Acts of Kindness


They’re a small yellow flower that many people call a weed just because they grow where they aren’t supposed to. They are resilient, and adaptable to change. When they become the little white poofs that fill our lawn, children can make wishes on their seeds. 

Growing up, dandelions filled the yard of my grandmother's house. My sisters and cousins would run around attempting to find the one with the largest flower, the longest stem, the smallest one, and everything in between. We would make flower crowns, we’d gather bundles of them until our hands were stained green only to put them into a tiny glass in the house. 

In elementary school, we would find one or two growing through the cracks in the sidewalk, thriving in conditions that many flowers can not. 

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you about these stupid little flowers. There’s two reasons. This morning, as I started to ponder what exactly I wanted to tell you all, my eyes drifted up to the corkboard sitting on my desk. Over the year it’s started to gather objects- there’s a polaroid or two, a couple school guest stickers, a kind note, and lots of plant stickers. But, in the very corner, there’s a card that says, “There’s no one else on earth like you.”

I’ve looked at that card a million times, but what struck this time was the wilted dandelion hanging above it. 

During National Convention, back in October, I was waiting outside the Steak and Shake there in Indy. The day had been long, draining, I just wanted to go to bed. 30 minutes pass, still in line, no food insight. Just when I started to get annoyed I felt a tap on my shoulder. This girl, with a cheetah print shirt and bell bottoms, slides this tiny dandelion into my hair and says, “Those jeans look great on you.” 

It took 2 seconds for the whole exchange to be done. I never saw her again. 

She took two seconds to do a small act of kindness that she probably didn’t take a second to think about. This little flower that she planned on taking back home for herself, she just gave to some random person on the street because she liked their jeans. But, it changed the trajectory of my entire night. The annoyance that was building because of sleep deprivation and the wait for food started to fade away. 

These small acts of kindness can cause change for others. They make bad moments good. They chase away the thoughts that eat away at our head. They create good. 

I challenge you to go out and create good. Tell someone they look nice today, pick up some trash, give a thumbs up to someone who looks like they’re struggling. You never know who might need it.