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  • Laurel Y


One of my biggest motivators in life is when someone tells me I can’t do something. For as long as I can remember, I have fueled all kinds of fires with the doubts of other people. I thrive on it.

That fire exponentializes when the doubts are related to my being a woman.

Sure, sometimes I really can’t do something! But the point is, if it’s something you want, you have to at least try. Just because you didn’t succeed, doesn’t mean you failed.

As a woman, I have always been subjected to sexist comments or insinuations that something is going to be harder for me because I’m not a man. These comments are especially prevalent (and infuriating) for women in agriculture. My whole life, I have always felt like I needed to keep quiet, smile and brush it off. The older I get, the harder it is for me to bite my tongue. I’m ashamed to say it took me 30 years to get here, but I’m finally done with smiling when I don’t want to. I’ve started speaking up more. Challenging remarks instead of just deflecting them. I take pride in shattering stereotypes and feel most empowered when I’m doing something I know others think I’m incapable of. I have a daughter of my own now, and I have become fiercely motivated to be the best example of a woman I can be for her.

My son will also be raised seeing that equality is standard in our household. It is so important to me that they both grow up with parents who are strong and kind but speak up when something isn’t right. Parents who are equal partners – who share equal responsibilities both inside and outside of the house. To raise them to fight their own societal stereotypes, to stand up for themselves and to pursue their dreams in a world that’s undoubtedly going to tell them ‘no’ somewhere along the way.

In my life, I’ve heard that word a lot. I may have had to slow down and change my direction a little bit, but it has never stopped me. Go ahead and tell me ‘no’. Tell me what I can’t do – and then watch me do it.

I can’t build a fence. I can’t drive a tractor. I can’t raise cattle. I can’t have two babies and grow our farm into a business. I can’t bake (yeah okay the last one is mostly true).

I have had the privilege of connecting with many other farmhers, ranchers, homesteaders, farmsteaders, cattlewomen and small-business entrepreneurs, and though it’s unlikely they know it, each and every one of them has inspired me to continue pursuing my goals. These women are strong, independent, and so talented in their own unique ways. They all have something substantial to offer the world and they aren’t afraid of the brilliance of their light. These women make me feel like I’m not alone, and that my dreams and goals are possible. They make me want to work harder to get to where I want to be, and to become the kind of woman I hope my daughter can look up to and be proud of one day.

So to all the women out there who have been told they can’t do something.. or who are trying to accomplish something that everyone is telling them isn’t possible: Take that doubt personally – and use it as fuel. Light your fire and keep that sucker burning. Blaze your own trail, let other women travel in your path, and girl – quit biting your tongue.

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