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“Hey Sheldon, did you clean the horse pens yet?” Few people hear this question on an average basis. For me, however, it’s something I hear very often–but, at the same time, it is only one aspect of my life. Many people think of me more as a city boy because of how I act and what I wear. What they don’t know is that, when I go home, I’m known as the ranch boy. Being two different types of people helped shaped who I am today. It has given me experience in different aspects of everyday life.
I was born and raised as a ranch boy in Sandpoint, Idaho, a small town with many types of people and personalities. I live on a large family ranch of about 400 acres where we raise cattle, horses, chickens and other farm animals. My neighbors include my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents; since they live only a couple miles away, it isn’t rare to see them passing by or for them visit us every once in a while.
Life on a ranch is hard work. On the farm there is always work to be done, but the key phrase my family uses is “Work now, play later.” That phrase gave me the work ethic I have. It pushed me to realize that if you work hard, accomplish all of your goals, and finish what you started, then after that you can enjoy your life with no worries of what must be done.
There is more to a ranch than all the animals. There is an atmosphere of trust, worthiness, and respect. A ranch lifestyle is so much different than a lifestyle in the city. On a ranch, you have a group of people you can count on, who work hard, and who respect you for who you are. There is a great bond of trust between people. For example, sometimes tools, items of great importance to a rancher, go missing. When I report their absence to my father, he thinks nothing of it because he has told many of our neighbors to simply take what they need. Sure enough, the tools are always back in their places within a few days.
Even though living on a ranch is just one aspect of my life, it has made me a stronger person. It helped me realize what, where, and how something needed to be done. I grew up in an atmosphere where family and friends were very important. My cousins, brother and I were best friends. Few people understand how close and important this can be. This background has influenced the way I trust and care for my friends as if they were family. This is how it is done in the ranch country.
As soon as I go into Sandpoint, my hometown, however, I am known as the city boy. I act, talk, walk, and breathe differently when I am there. Even though Sandpoint is a small town, it’s a harsh place to live. At school there is so much going on, between the popularity contests, dramatics, and social groups, that only the strongest survive without being hurt in one way or another. My experience just from that made me stronger and prepared for what can go on in the real world.
Not everything I have learned is good, of course. Violence, cursing, stealing, drugs, drinking and other behaviors, rare in the ranch country, are common in the city. Some people don’t work hard in the city and it is rare to find people you could trust. I grew accustomed to it, though, and eventually learned to tolerate it. Eventually, all my friends changed from when I knew them in elementary school and were persuaded to do something, in one way or another, because they couldn’t handle the constant pressures of life. I could handle these pressures because of the morals I had grown up with. This acceptance of differences was one of the many things city life gradually taught me.
The constant transitions between country and city continuously reveal to me how different my two lives are. While as a child I had aspirations of becoming a rancher, my city life convinced me that perhaps I should strive for more. It made me want to go out in the world and accomplish something great, something that no one in my family has done before: to go to college and become something different than a rancher.
Living in such two different cultures has helped me discover that change is necessary and important in developing a wide range views on life. By incorporating positive attributes from each culture and learning from them, I have developed a solid value system that will help me survive the real world. I now have good ethics, common sense, and street smarts. My knowledge of these lifestyles provides me with a unique view, which will, I hope, enable me to further understand other aspects of my future.
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