My first year at Missouri Valley, I was in Godspell.  It’s one of my favorite musicals and I had a blast.  When I tried out for the musical, I warned them that I was committed to the rodeo team, so I would have to miss the last full rehearsals before tech week.  They were nice enough to cast me anyway.

BUT!  When I was prepping for the rodeo and right after I came back, I got a lot of strange looks, looks that said, “Who is this girl and what does she have to do with rodeo?”  For some reason, though I think of rodeo as my home, I don’t present as a rodeo girl.  The dance director was nice enough to say, “I just don’t see it!  Can we see you dressed out?”  So I showed up to the rehearsal the night before the rodeo started in full regalia (jeans, wrangler shirt, belt, boots, and hat . . . which I promptly took off).  The directors were properly shocked by the transformation from sweats and pjs to full dress with makeup.  Further, they seemed to be shocked that underneath all the spangle and sparkle, I was still the same girl.  At the end of break that night, I came trotting out of the restroom with my hands still wet and cinching my belt.  Just as they had begun seeing me as the put-together cowgirl, I surprised them with my casual disregard for being “put-together.”  I explained that belts were less of a necessity and more of a part of the outfit in rodeo (I had friends who would strip down on the grounds and change into competition clothes.  Modesty, much less having the belt buckled, meant very little.)  I think they spent the rest of the night trying to reconcile the girl they knew (sweats and a pony tail), the girl they saw (make-up and coiffed), and the girl I am (which falls somewhere between the two).

Just the other night I went to the Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo with a bunch of friends.  I warned them beforehand that the parking lot takes forever to clear and it’s not really worth the stop and go traffic to get out when there was entertainment provided.  The entertainment is a band and a dance floor (which is very rodeo culture, we love our swing and country two-step). So, we all stayed to dance for a bit.  One of my friends mentioned that, well, he would never have guessed that I was a rodeo girl when we met.  Intellectual?  Sure.  But country girl?  Not so apparent.

I don’t know what it is about me that makes people peg me in such small boxes.  Thankfully, one of the boxes that my new friends are learning to put me in is “surprising.”  I may not seem the rodeo girl, but rest assured I am.  This is my home, this is my life.  I love every part of it and actively look for ways to be more involved.  I am full of surprises, from being a country girl to being a drama geek.  And if people have trouble reconciling all these seemingly random sides to me, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have the same problem sometimes.  But that’s part of learning who you are and getting comfy with it; I get to discover and be surprised by me.  Those are good surprises.