If one would have had a look at my life before I came to the Ranch, it would have appeared perfect to an outsider. A supporting family, caring friends and a loving boyfriend. Also, I started studying International Management, the subject I always wanted to study and on which all my goals were focused. It seemed life meant it well with me and that it couldn’t be any better. That’s probably how everybody else would have described my life. Everybody, except for me.
I was feeling miserable on the inside. I had the feeling that my life had come to a standstill. My days seemed like a monotonous and ever-repeating rhythm that just went on and on. It was hard for me to motivate myself. I simply didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings and after my classes I was tired, even though I had no reason to feel like this. Sure, I have amazing friends with whom I was doing many activities. But, hanging out with my friends would only distract me from how miserable I actually felt. When I was alone again, doubts about everything I did and was doing crossed my mind. I had no confidence and trust in myself. If something challenging crossed my path, I would somehow work my way around it; being too afraid of struggles or failures. I was too afraid to take responsibility for myself and my actions. I think at some point I even realized for myself that taking the easy way made me unhappy, but my life seemed perfect, right? So why should I change anything that might risk the perfection? I mean it was just me feeling miserable and I could deal with it, I thought. Nobody had noticed, so nobody was bothered by me. But again, nobody except for me.
Everything I did was focused on everyone around me, but not on me. So, when I started the application process for my internship at the ranch, I hated it. The questionnaires forced me to think about myself and confronted me with feelings I tried hard to hide. That’s why at first, I didn’t want to continue the process. Somehow though, those questions kept coming back to my mind and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. The more I thought about them, the more I realized that I needed a change and that continuing with the application process could help me with that.
But, filling out the questionnaires was only the first obstacle I had to overcome. The next challenge came right along with my arrival at the ranch. The first few days at the ranch appeared very different to what I imagined them to be. I thought that everybody had their assigned job that they would do on and on. However, that was not the case and therefore I became very frustrated during my first few days at the ranch. I wanted to be in the office, learning things that would prepare me for my future career. Instead, I was washing dishes and cleaning up the attic of the barn. I started doubting my decision and myself: Was I right coming here? Will this be the right place to gain work experience? Do I really fit in here?
After a few more days, I was finally able to work in the office, but with this, I faced the next big challenge. After being only taught some simple email responses, the office manager left for a few days. Suddenly I was all alone in the office without any idea what I was supposed to do, since I’d never been taught anything more complicated. On the other side, it was expected from me to know everything. I had no trust in myself to take on the new tasks; to take the initiative and responsibility for it. I wanted someone telling me what to do, so I couldn’t mess up anything. But that’s not how the ranch works. There is nobody telling you what you can or can’t do. The only one here who can is yourself. So eventually, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and to make decisions that were not confirmed by someone more experienced. It was another very hard and frustrating experience for me. But it paid off. I was surprised by myself and the abilities I possessed as I did not think that I was capable of taking on such a challenge, but, somehow, I did. This kind of feeling, the feeling of accomplishment, was something I haven’t felt in a long time. To feel it again made me feel alive, stronger and empowered.
I was on a high. I didn’t want this feeling to stop. So, when I had the opportunity to help a guide teaching a guide school I was hooked. Not only the fact that I would acquire new skills made me excited, but also the fact that I could go on my first pack trip. A few days before the guide school started, the other guide became sick and had to stay in bed. Now all the responsibility was passed onto me. It frightened me and I started panicking again. Self-doubts would cross my mind: How can I teach someone the guide school without it being taught to me before? On the other side, I wanted to go up the mountains to see what everybody was talking about. To experience the breath-taking views everyone is amazed by. Clarifying this goal helped me to realize that I had focused on the things I didn’t know instead of the things I knew. I asked other people to help, rearranged the staff schedule and researched everything I could. And again, taking on the challenge paid off. I went up to the mountains with the pack trip and was rewarded with the most amazing views I have ever seen. Riding on the mountain ridges, seeing deer chasing each other through the beautiful meadows and smelling all the flowers, it all felt like a dream. Again, I was on my high of feeling accomplished, and with it I realized even more that I was capable of so many more things than I thought I was. I only had to be confident in myself and trust my abilities.
Even though it took me some time to realize the concepts of the ranch, I finally did and with it I felt something changing in me. The more responsibility I took, the greater my rewards were. By this I gained confidence in myself and my abilities again. I wasn’t afraid anymore to take on something challenging and overwhelming as I had proven to myself again what I was capable of.
So, when the office manager left to go back home, I was ready to take over new responsibilities. I was looking forward to applying all the things I have learned, but even more importantly, to taking on another challenge to prove to myself what I am capable of. And again, taking all the responsibility paid off as I am feeling more fulfilled than I have felt in a long time.
Now, as my journey at the ranch comes closer to an end, I can proudly look back on all the things I have achieved. The transformation I have lived through helped me to find joy again in what I am doing as it gave me back the lost freedom to make my own choices focused on my interests. I am now the master of my own destiny. Willing to hold onto this, I will go back home soon; highly motivated to live a fulfilling life, a life with purpose.
Lea D., Germany