It’s 11 pm on Tuesday and tomorrow I am traveling 65 miles to teach a class at an event for youth called Marketplace for Kids held in a neighboring college town.
Marketplace for Kids is something I may or may not have attended in my youth as an ambitious 8 or 9 or 10 year old– an educational program offered to students from around the state to help encourage young entrepreneurs and give them a chance to present and explain their projects–which are no doubt brilliant and creative and inspiring.
I will be a part of their opening ceremony. I will be singing a song. I will be teaching five, twenty-five minute classes about how I got from ranch kid, to singer/songwriter, to college student, to career woman and, then back to the ranch–this time as a grown woman.
I will be up all night.
Yes, I have known about this gig since January, but three months later and nine hours until the event itself, I still have no idea why they want me there. I spent all day today going over my class notes, trying to find the best way to explain myself. Trying to figure out how to communicate my goals and ambitions and minor successes to a room full of 7 or 8 0r 9 or 10 year olds.
Trying to figure out really, how I got here.
I don’t know if I’m the right woman for the job…I just don’t know if I have what it takes. The thing that gives me hope is my one redeeming quality: I can still remember, vaguely, what it was like to be their age–so full of creativity and life and love for the things around me.
I can still remember, vaguely…
And you know, since I have been doing all this thinking, here’s what I think–I think that’s what has saved me and got me here today, doing something I love in a place I love the most in the world.
So now it’s 11:10 pm and having been at this quest, this journey about what to say to a crowd of children who are no doubt smarter than I am, unofficially since I was asked to do the gig in January and officially since 8 am this morning. And I think I might have finally got it.
I’m still nervous. But I think I got it. Or something that resembles it.
I guess I’ll find out tomorrow…
To the kids
Hello! I was so excited to talk to you all today. I’ve been thinking about what to say to you for months. I worry about things like this. It’s such a fun opportunity to talk to you about what I’ve learned in my 27 short years….I didn’t want to mess it up!
I wanted to tell you a little about myself, about how I have been playing guitar and writing poetry and music about the ranch I grew up on since I was 12 years old and how I recorded a couple CDs and how I traveled the country for years singing songs, like the one I just sang for you today.
I wanted to tell you about how, after all of the miles I traveled and all of the songs I sang along the way, I have moved back to the ranch and am now working on opening it up to guests so they can come and visit, take photos, hike and bike and ride horses and learn about ranching and cattle.
I wanted to tell you all about how I got to where I am and how, with enough drive and ambition, you can grow up to be anything you want to be…
But the thing is, as I look out at you I remember myself at your age. And I remember that you already know that. Someone has already told you this a time or two haven’t they?
Because when I was your age I knew it. I knew what I loved—horses and music and wildflowers and lizards and my friends and family and pet dogs—I knew I loved all of the space around me and the adventure and freedom of growing up and living in the country. I knew who I was.
Jessie Veeder. Brown Hair. Brown Eyes. Tomboy. Nature Lover. Animal Lover. Singer. Cowgirl.
And I look at you out here and I see blond hair and black hair and boys and girls, big sisters, little brothers, inventors and authors and movie stars and firefighters and business owners. You all have your interests and your hobbies and your talents. They are being developed right in front of my eyes. I can see it happening as I speak.
So instead of telling you that you can be anything you want to be, what I really want to tell you is to just, please…
Do the things you love. Explore and make friends and travel and learn about what makes you happy and what you do best. And go out and do it. Every day.
And as you grow up you will find it will be hard sometimes, and sometimes you will be pulled in unexpected directions, sometimes you will be lonely and sometimes you will fail…
But when that happens, remember yourself here, at 7 or 10 or 13 years old. It will be easy to do if you stay true to yourself, the one who is sitting in these chairs with all of your plans and talents and goals and spirit.…
Be You. The very best version.
And I promise you will succeed.
I’ll let you know how it goes…and if they Slushie me Glee Style.