On riding and finding my passion

by Marija
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Girl loses hat while riding horse at sunset

Growing up, I was told that life was made of sacrifices. That we can’t possibly have it all; that we sometimes need to sacrifice one thing in hopes of getting another. I get that. But what if we miscalculated and sacrificed the one thing that made us… well – us? What then?

In this capitalist culture, money and fame are imposed on us as symbols of success. We think that if we go after money instead of following after our passion, we will be able to make money and then pursue our passion… But the reality is that when we sacrifice our passion for money, more often that not, we forget what our passion was and we never get to know the true feeling of success. That happened to me. And do you know what my passion was?

My long lost spark

I discovered horses when I was 6 years old. It was love at first sight. I kept pestering my parents ever since to take me to the equestrian club but that didn’t happen until I was old enough (freshman year in high school) and when I could make my own decisions. You can’t imagine my happiness at finally being surrounded by these beautiful animals. Unless you are rider yourself, you probably don’t understand the meaning of the horse bug but I can tell you — that’s a serious and untreatable “disease” — the one I hope I never get cured from.

Four years passed since then and I had to start preparations to go to the University. I had two options: to get a sports scholarship at any University that offers it or try and get academic scholarship at a great University but at the expense of riding. I chose the latter. Ever since then, my equestrian career was put on HOLD.

I knew deep down that riding was too expensive for me and that I had to wait until I was done with school and able to pay for the riding lessons, and even better – my own horse. But as I was finding a way to afford to ride again, 12 years have gone by and I completely forgot why I wanted to go back to riding at the first place. While waiting for the right moment and opportunity, I lost that spark.

This summer a good friend of mine finally managed to get me convinced to get up on the horse again and to ride. I have no words to express how grateful I am to her for that. Getting back on the horse (figuratively and literally) made me rethink many decisions I’ve made in my life so far. It made me question the reasons for doing things I did and thanks to that, I think I am on a good road to become who I was meant to be all this time.

I am riding almost every day now — remembering and re-learning techniques I once knew. And while traveling, I’m always trying to find clubs around me where I can pay for the riding lessons so that my progress can continue. Yes, pursuing this passion of mine makes things tad more complicated but the feeling of happiness I have has no price. I am fine now with sacrificing dinners at fancy restaurants, crazy night outs, expensive hotels and many other things I used to choose in the past, for the feel of wind in my hair and freedom I breathe in every time I’m on the horse.  To me, that’s the priceless luxury.

Don’t get me wrong here: I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made so far because they brought me to this point in life. But from this perspective, I know now that I gave up on my dreams all too easily. Perhaps they weren’t meant to happen then. Perhaps I had to learn a few lessons along the way, to get to know humility, “loss”, hard work, sacrifices… a lot of perhaps here, but regardless of what I tell myself now, I know I could have had it all if only I pushed myself a bit harder when things seemed impossible.

My next step: finding the good club and stable close to where I live, buying my own horse and trying to be the best rider I can be. Not for others, but for myself.

Woman during horseback riding the summer in the countryside.

Copyright: Pavel Kriuchkov

Sacrifices are ok

As I said in the beginning, I am absolutely fine with sacrifices. I agree that something always needs to be sacrificed but NOT at the expense of something that makes you wanna go that extra mile. The life might be harder if you stick to what you love, but in the end, it’s the journey that counts. If you are waking up with a smile on your face and you are going to bed happy knowing tomorrow is not coming soon enough, then you know you’ve made the right choice.

And you know what too? It’s not enough to just have passion. You have to be willing to fight for it too. I had passion I gave up all too easily. I stopped at the first obstacle and listened to the people telling me I could not do everything. But what did they know? They didn’t know me. For something I love, I will move mountains. So will you.

In the quest for riches, don’t let yourself forget how it feels to be happy and fulfilled. So if you are lacking passion these days: go out there, put your feelers out, breathe in the world around you, and try to find your missing spark because when you do, that spark will lead you to your better tomorrow. I promise.

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