I'm an extrovert, people person, and social butterfly maybe to a fault. I get my energy from others and I’m happiest when I’m with people, friends or strangers.
A side effect of my constant longing for social interaction has lead to my self diagnosis of a severe case of FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.
Missing family functions, parties, impromptu hang outs, game nights, or basically anything remotely exciting or fun gives me a major FOMO flare up. Having friends and family in different parts of the world is great, but only adds to it because, unfortunately against my truest wishes, I can only be in one place at one time.
Perhaps you or someone you know is living with similar symptoms of severe FOMO. If the following applies to you, fear not for you are not alone.
14 Signs of Severe FOMO
1. A piece of your soul dies when you know you’re missing out on a party or event… but you continue to torture yourself by constantly checking Snapchat and social media to feel like you’re a part of it.
2. The first time you have to miss out on a tradition, your heart silently breaks. The first family holidays away from home are arguably THE WORST.
3. You sacrifice things like sleep for the sake of social interaction... It’s 11pm when your friend calls from the bar summoning you to join, but you have to get up early for a work meeting… You can sleep when you’re dead right?
4. You are the go-to person of your friends when they need a wing(wo)man for the night because they know it’s extremely rare for you to say no.
5. That being said, people always assume something is terribly wrong if you deny an invitation to do something.
6. You have a hard time focusing on something if you hear laughter in the other room that you aren’t a part of. “What happened? Did I miss something? Fill me in. I want to laugh too.”
7. Normal people have nightmares about dying or monsters, but you have nightmares about losing your keys and showing up to a party after it’s over.
8. You repeatedly check your calendar for free weekends to visit friends, but finding a job to fully support your travel desires is next to impossible. Your mason jar travel fund on your dresser keeps you hopeful.
9. Sitting at home doing nothing on a weekend gives you anxiety because you know there is fun to be had somewhere that you may be missing out on.
10. You struggle with resisting to text people so you don’t become a pest and incessantly checking in on what they’re doing to make sure they aren’t having fun without you.
11. You have to consciously remind yourself that some people need breaks from social interaction. You mean, not everyone wants to hang out and talk to me all the time? Weird.
12. You love living in a new city and making new friends, but you can’t help but internally weep when you see your friends in pictures back home at your favorite old local spot.
13. Lying on your death bed in pain isn’t even enough to sequester your inner desires to muster up the strength for Sunday-Funday brunch. What if they sip on mimosas and take a basic group selfie without you?
14. The only way to numb your FOMO is to plan something exciting or fun to do as a distraction. Spontaneous roadtrip anyone?
My fellow FOMOers, we're in this together.
Oh, I just had a brilliant idea...
FOMO support group anyone? Sunday? I'll bring the mimosas.
I am a proud California native, perhaps obnoxiously so.
My family has been cattle ranching on the Central Coast for 7 generations.
WHAT?!?! California has more than just surfer bros, Kardashians, and Google?!?!
Why yes, we do. MUCH more. Thank heavens for that.
Yes, there are things about it that I don't miss (like the cost of living and lack of Cracker Barrels), but I will forever be a champion for the beautiful golden state. It has something for everyone whether you prefer big cities, rural farm life, sandy beaches, snowy mountains, or barren deserts. The agriculture is abundant, landscapes are stunning, food is delicious, wine is divine, and the weather is just simply perfection (most of the time).
I have a confession to make though... California I'm cheating on you and there is another state that has recently stole my heart. When I moved here for work about six months ago I had no idea what to expect, and whatever few expectations I had were completely blown out of the water. Nestled between eight surrounding states, the Bluegrass State of Kentucky is an absolute gem and is wildly underrated. It undoubtedly has a piece of my heart, and here are just a few ways it stole it.
I quickly learned that my California definition of barbecue and the southern definition of barbecue are VERY different. To me barbecue is a verb and a noun. Anything that you barbecue on a grill is called barbecue. Kentuckians basically told me to swerve, "You crazy Californian, you've got it all wrong. That's just grilling. If it ain't slow roasted, it ain't barbecue." Well, you learn something new every day, don't you? My only request is that Kentucky join the west coast in our love for tri-tip beef because I'm having massive withdrawals. I know that some people will argue about Kentucky being the best state for barbecue, and to them I say, "Sorry, give me a sec. I'm busy stuffing my face with delicious, tender, slow roasted brisket."
I'm a wine lover through and through and a sucker for German beer, but the heavenly delight of that golden fluid... I CAN'T EVEN. I've only scraped the top of the bourbon barrel, if you will, but I'm aspiring to Pappy Van Winkle levels before I die. High hopes, I know. The only thing that leaves me perplexed is this "dry" county nonsense.. Prohibition was soooo last century. And what the heck is a "moist" county? It is rarely ever okay to even use that word as a descriptor... for anything.
Fireflies/Lightning bugs Whatever the heck those majestic glowing creatures are called.
My coworkers were BAFFLED by the fact that my first time seeing fireflies was my first day in Kentucky. Sure California has the beach and God's gift to mankind (aka In-N-Out Burger)... But no fireflies. While people here probably get over the hype by age 10, with no shame in my game at first sight I was a full grown adult giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning. Bucket list item: √Check. Thanks Kentucky.
Maybe you've heard that Kentucky is the horse capital of the world? Did you know that Kentucky is also the largest beef cattle producing state east of the Mississippi River? As a hub for both horses and cattle, there is some beautiful pasture ground across the state, and it is SO GREEN. Crazy what rain can do, right California?
Listen, I know it might be weird, but one of my favorite parts of the horse and cattle country here are the fences. The wooden plank fences in the rolling hills of the lusciously green Bluegrass GIVE ME LIFE. And don't even get me started about the old rock wall fences, especially the ones along Paris Pike. It's like classic southern charm with a dash of European and I am in love. I do miss the abundance of classic old rusty barbed-wire back home, but you can't have it all.
Y'alls and Drawls
As endearing as "hella" and "right on bro" are, I think I prefer southern drawls and Kentuckyisms much more. I'll admit, I'm still trying to break my California habits like saying, "Shut UP!" when I hear something that surprises or excites me. Baby steps.
I am slowly learning the "correct" way to pronounce things like Louisville (Loo-vull) and finally got over feeling the need to cringe when pronouncing Versailles (Ver-sales). Even when you are insulted here it sounds like the sweetest thing you've ever heard. I know by now what "bless your heart" REALLY means, but I can't help but want to sincerely respond with an "Aw, thank you. That's so sweet." I'm secretly hoping that the southern accent will wear off on me, because I don't think I will ever get sick of it. Y'all are fixin' to make this Californian never wanna leave!
I don't know if I'm actually obsessed with Kentucky, or if Kentuckians are so obsessed with Kentucky that it's contagious. Either way, I'm hooked. And PROUD. Kentucky has a surprising 120 counties (CA is more than 4x the size of KY and only has 58, just sayin') and each one is as unique as the spots on a Holstein cow. Kentuckians don't identify with their hometown, but their home county. I finally caught on, "Hi, I'm Kiah from Fayette county." Am I doing it right?
I live in Lexington, so yes, I tend to favor UK blue. Is it because I'm a huge CATS fan or because I don't want to be the ONLY Lexingtonian not representing on game day? Let's just say I've invested in some spirited garb to blend in with the locals. When I walk into a local store I find it hard not to want to buy every Kentucky themed item there is. Do I need a Kentucky shaped cutting board? No, nobody does. Unlike the perfect cutting board shaped state of Colorado, a Kentucky cutting board is awkward and narrow at one end with inconvenient funky ridges. Do I need to spend $40 on a burlap pillow that I will never use just because it has an adorable Kentucky patch on it? Probably not. But I WANT IT. Because, well, Kentucky y'all.
One of which is Jennifer Lawrence, who I just really want to be friends with. #goals
But in all seriousness...
Southern hospitality is most definitely a thing. A real life thing. The people here are INCREDIBLE. I moved here knowing 1 person but I felt at home almost immediately because the people are generous, welcoming, and sincere. You know that at-home feeling you get when you're in the town you grew up in and you see 12 people you know on a short trip to the grocery store? It feels like that, but everywhere. As a total people person, I LOVE that waving at people and striking up conversations with total strangers is a normal everyday thing here. The casual hour long conversation I had with a preacher the other day while getting my tires changed was nothing out of the ordinary, and that's awesome if you ask me.
Being away from home is hard, that's a fact. I hate having to miss family functions in sunny 75 degree weather while freezing to death in a Snowpocalypse.
I will forever preach that "West Coast = Best Coast," but I thank God every day that fate brought me here, the wonderful state of Kentucky.
Everybody needs a hero—someone they can look up to, a mentor for guidance, an ear for listening, and a person to offer new perspectives.
My hero does not wear a cape. He does not have supernatural powers. He can’t fly. He doesn’t have superhuman strength or speed. He’s never disabled a bomb to save the universe or created a time portal. His sky blue eyes don’t have lasers or telepathic powers, but glisten with life and spirit despite the wrinkles around them.
His super suit most days consists of dark denim jeans, leather bottomed cowboy boots, a long-sleeve western shirt, felt cowboy hat, and on special occasions a boldly colored wild rag.
His superhero name? Well, I call him “Grandpa.”
My grandpa has been one of the most influential people in my life. He’s the type of person you ask one yes or no question and find yourself sitting across from him three cups of coffee and four hours later. He will even tell you himself, “you can never pass up a good audience” and if you are ever lucky enough to meet this incredible man, allow yourself some time—and by time I mean the better part of your day.
He has filled his 83 years with a lot of life, a lot of experiences, and a lot of wisdom.
Here are a few of my favorite bits of wisdom from my superhero rancher grandpa.
I have the feeling that many people don’t associate farmers and ranchers with being the most academic or intelligent group of people. To me, that just shows that people with those assumptions may be dumber than they look. Just because my grandpa is a rancher and would prefer to be atop a horse herding cattle than in a stuffy conference room does not make him inferior to suit-and-tie folks in any way. Farming and ranching is hard work, not just physically but mentally. As a farmer or rancher, you are a businessperson, a finance manager, an environmental steward, a veterinarian, a mechanic, and an agricultural scientist.
He talks simply, not because he is simple minded or unintelligent, his degree from Berkeley suggests otherwise. Some people use complex words just to show off how smart they are, or rather utilize a copious abundance of multifarious terminology to accentuate their intellectual capacity. Intellect is about far more than vocabulary. Don’t underestimate people. There is something to be learned from everyone, whether it’s a graduate with a Harvard law degree, a struggling homeless person living on the street, or a 4-year-old that is partial to snacking on glue. It would be a shame to lose the opportunity to learn from the experiences and perspectives of others by narrowing your network because you feel the need to appear intellectually superior.
Keep your mind young.
It is important to treat your body well, but let’s face it, gravity will eventually win out and time will take its toll. Just as exercise and fresh air are good for your body, exercising your brain with fresh ideas is good for your mind. As long as you are able, refuse to let your mind become stagnant. Read often and fill your time thoughtfully conversing with likeminded people as well as people from different walks of life that challenge your perspectives. If you never challenge your views, how can you justify them or truly know you believe in them? Never become complacent with your knowledge, learning should be a lifelong adventure to be embraced and continually sought after.
Personality trumps appearance.
Or in his exact words, “A good personality could excuse anybody’s looks or crazy hairdo. If you don’t have a personality then you’re no better than a wart on a cow’s tit.” Yes... my grandpa likes to talk in pictures and what a picture this one paints! A wart on a cows tit is, well, not necessarily a nuisance but not necessarily an asset. Personality is far more impressionable than appearance.
Be someone people remember, for the right reasons ideally. Be someone different. Be someone people look forward to seeing. Be someone people think of fondly. Be thoughtful. Be someone that makes people think about things a different way. Be honest, kind, pleasant, and good-humored. Be crazy, energetic, and eclectic. Above all else, be unapologetically yourself and let your personality tell your story rather than waste your time worried about matters that are only skin deep.
Invest in memories.
To be honest, I use this piece of advice to justify my decisions probably far more often than I should. “Should I buy a plane ticket for a weekend getaway to visit friends or save it for the new tires I’ve been ignoring the need for? Meh, WEEKEND GETAWAY IT IS!”
Let’s face it, no matter how much a person may try to fight it, money impacts and in many ways shapes our lives. We are constantly working for it, trying to save it, spending too much of it, wanting for more of it, or worried about wisely investing it. What if we thought about money differently? Sure, money can give you a nice house, car, jewelry, clothes, and gadgets. Yes please, sign me up! There is nothing wrong with liking and wanting nice things. If they don’t become damaged, destroyed, or stolen, they will all eventually become outdated. Then what? Nicer house, car, jewelry, clothes, and gadgets? Things fade. They become irrelevant. They are temporary and can be taken away. There is one thing that can’t be taken away from you, though—memories.
Money can’t buy memories, at least not directly. In fact, there is a non-monetary form of currency that we all have, some more than others, that is too often taken for granted—a little thing called time. Invest your time in memories. Happiness does not come from objects. Life is not about things. It is about moments. It is about the first time your dad taught you how to fish, the warm embrace from your mom the first time you came home after leaving for college, the spontaneous road trip you took with friends, and the happy tears you cried when your siblings said “I do.” It is about sharing belly aching laughter on game night, fireside cuddles and bedtime stories, laying on a trampoline drawing shapes in the stars, holding your niece or nephew for the first time, and talking with your grandparents on a Sunday morning over a warm cup of coffee. Good memories will remain far longer than any THING money can buy. Fill up your bank with good memories and don’t forget to invest your currencies wisely in the things that truly matter.
I am grateful to have a hero that has given me the courage to take chances, the confidence in my ability to impact the world, and blessed me with deep family roots to allow me to grow beyond the ranch on which I was planted.
Having a real life superhero as a grandpa is pretty amazing, and cowboy hats are far cooler than capes anyhow.
The term “animal activist” makes most people in my industry cringe. For many involved in animal agriculture, “animal activism” translates to radical individuals protesting for animal rights equivalent to those of humans, individuals refusing the use of animals for consumption or other purposes, and people exploiting public misperception by flooding the media with misrepresentations of animal agriculture.
I am not here to argue with traditional “animal activists.” To be fair, perhaps we as animal agriculturalists shouldn’t assume that all “animal activists” are the same or that the most radical minority are fully representative of the whole. I would HOPE they don’t see the wrong doings of one careless farmer, maybe even from another country, and assume it is standard practice for the rest of us… although perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an optimist.
I am here, rather, to simply suggest that advocates and activists for animals come in other forms beyond vegetarian or vegan (whose eating decisions I fully support). Maybe even… farmer/rancher?
One definition states that,
“The root word of activist is the Latin actus, "a doing, a driving force, or an impulse." Someone who acts on what (s)he believes is an activist.”
An activist is “an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause.”
With that being said, I proclaim that I am an animal activist, or for better clarification, animal agtivist.
I believe in treating animals with the utmost care and respect. I believe in animal welfare. I believe that men and women who mistreat their animals have no place being caretakers of them. I believe in a farmer’s duty to maintain their animals’ good health and to nurture those that may become ill. I believe in continued research to better understand the needs of livestock health. I am a vigorous advocate of ensuring the well-being and health of livestock used to feed the world.
Having grown up as a 6th generation cattle rancher, I have cared for hundreds, maybe thousands, of cattle and other livestock first hand in my lifetime. I have sacrificed my own comfort for the well being of animals—delivered calves in the middle of the freezing night, doctored sick animals in the blazing heat, and spent countless hours ensuring their proper nutrition and comfort.
Yes, the majority of cattle I have cared for were beef cattle that eventually ended up in supermarkets or on dining tables. Just because these animals were used for meat does not mean my family and I were careless owners or heartless murderers. To be a farmer or rancher, a person must have an absolute LOVE and PASSION for animals. They must be willing to make personal sacrifices and must be unshakably dedicated to caring for them, no matter the season. They must be lifelong learners, constantly bettering themselves and their practices improving the herd and its product. They must be advocates with loud enough voices to stand up for their lifestyle and livelihoods when so many mislead people stand against them.
Although I have major “beef” (pun intended) with most traditional “animal activist” organizations, I cannot deny their effective tactics.
They instill intense emotion through media.
Fear, sadness, joy, anger, happiness, satisfaction – these are all powerful emotions that we as people know very well. Through the use of imagery, music, and sound, media has an incredible ability to instill these emotions at the touch of a button, through the glass of a screen, or a square on a page. The way media utilizes these components can bring what perhaps some may see as misguided emotion, not fully telling the whole story or transforming an image into something that it is not. Not sure what I mean? Check this out, (and watch to the end).
…see what I did there?
They create conversation.
Emotion creates feelings, feelings create conversation, conversations create opinions, and opinions create action. Through shock and awe factors, “animal activists” create conversations. They lead people to question things they had never thought about and they encourage people to take a stand for what they feel is wrong. As agriculturalists, it is our duty to be active in conversations and create dialogue. We must be a resource for people with questions and we must tell our stories before other people falsely do so. Where do we in agriculture fall short? Well, fear and terror sells better than honesty and good. Turn on the news for a half hour and you'll see what I mean.
They make people feel a part of something.
With a small donation to these organizations, people feel they are making the world a better place… With a click of a button, a person’s dose of satisfaction and good deeds are fulfilled for the day. If there is one thing people should feel a part of, it’s agriculture. Most people rely on agriculture directly at least 3 times a day (and in countless other ways beyond the dining table). Less than 2% of the U.S. is directly involved in food production, but every individual personally relies on agriculture. With the growing disconnect, it is harder and harder to bridge the gap between producers and consumers. In a digital world, however, relationships CAN be formed, questions answered, and truths shared. Consumers can feel a part of agriculture, can interact with farming and ranching men and women, and become better ag educated to make informed opinions about their food and where it comes from.
No, I don’t fit the traditional “animal activist” mold. I was born into a family with a long tradition of raising animals for consumption. Today, I wore leather boots and ate beef for lunch.
I am active in the care of animals. I am active in continuing my understanding as a rancher to be the best caretaker I can be. I am active in sharing my stories and my love for animals. I am active in addressing the questions people have concerning livestock handling and care. I am active in creating transparency from pasture to plate. I am active in being a voice for the industry that feeds the world.
With all of that being said, I proclaim once more,
along with my fellow animal agriculturalists, farmers, and ranchers,
I am an animal agtivist.
...and yes, I like cows.