An Agreement to Disagree

I think we can all agree that, for the most part, politics suck.

When I was younger, I think I just sort of fell into agreement with my family’s political views; one, because I didn’t pay any attention to what was happening, and two, because it didn’t matter to me at that point in my life anyway.

Now that I try my best to stay up-to-date with news, I can actually comprehend what it means, and I feel the effects of the things that are going on in the world around me. Now that I can form opinions for myself, they’ve begun to differ from what I grew up with.

For the most part my parents are very open to discussions and they do their best to give me unbiased responses, but some others in my family aren’t so supportive.

I try to stay away from discussing politics with these members of the family, but sometimes things come up unintentionally. For example: tonight at dinner, I began talking about hopes for my future, such as what I want to study and where I want to go to college, possible careers, where I want to travel, etc.

When I mentioned that one day I want to join the Peace Corps they sort of laughed at me. That’s when our conversation took a turn. Instead of discussing my hopes and dreams for my life ahead of me, I was bombarded with questions like, “Why do you want to join the Peace Corps? Why don’t you intern at Wall Street?” and “Don’t you care about money? Well you will once you have to provide for yourself.”

Image via

As a result of those responses, I have a message for the family members in question: Since I decided to keep my larger opinions to myself after the dinner incident, here are a few things that I hope you will someday understand.

First and foremost, I am fully aware that for my entire life I have been financially secure and I haven’t had to worry about anything involving money. I know that this is a result of a lifetime of your hard work, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Although some of our opinions are quite different, I still respect yours; your opinions are valid.

I’m not sorry that my views differ from yours, but I’m sorry that you completely disregard them. It really doesn’t matter to me that you have different values, so long as you don’t tell me that my own are wrong.

While you are probably correct in that a lot of my opinions are somewhat influenced by my peers, that doesn’t mean that I can’t think for myself.

It’s fair for you to be disappointed that I don’t agree with you, but it’s not fair for you to be disappointed in me as a person. The way I vote does not determine who I am, nor does it determine my character.

Half of my relatives just give away their vote and let someone else decide their views for them. Shouldn’t you be happy that I can think for myself? Shouldn’t you be happy that I don’t believe everything I’m told and that I know what is important to me? Shouldn’t you at least be happy that I believe in something?

Please don’t disregard what I say to you. Please don’t blame my opinions on my age. Please don’t brush off my contradictions with “Oh, she’ll come around one of these days.”

Please don’t look at me differently because of what I think. Differences in opinions should be accepted, not criticized. If our minds were all the same, nothing would ever go anywhere.

Diversity, whether it be found in people, in life experience, or in beliefs, is a wonderful thing.

The Truth About Horseback Riding

When you were little did any of you ever dream of becoming a movie star or professional athlete, but later figured out you can’t amount to either of these things unless you have millions of dollars? And, speaking from experience, the percentage of little girls who dream to own and show a horse in the Olympics is very large, I’d say about 99.9% of them do.

But, later the harsh reality of life kicks in, and the kids, as well as their parents, learn that the cost of showing, owning, and maintaining a horse of that stature is much more than the average American earns a year. Even the cost to purchase this caliber of horse can range from $100,000-millions of dollars. The thing is, the rich-and-famous stereotype is completely true. The cost of showing a horse on the international circuit can exceed $200,000 a year. Riders often will have more than one horse to compete in each of three different classes, which include jumpers, hunters, and equitation.

It’s the epitome of a luxury good.

Alongside that, the classes in which you compete are judged on how nice of a horse you own, even in the walk trot divisions with four-year-old girls and their ponies. The collegiate level, along with the other levels, in horseback riding are judged unfairly because of the imbalance of wealth.

The wealth indifference lights up in the average person’s face saying, “Only the rich make it.”

“No wonder the elite equestriennes gracing this month’s Town & Country are all billionaire princesses.”

The connection between horses and wealth began a millennia ago.

In fact, the first people who were known to commend hierarchies of power and believe variations of wealth were vital to their society were also the first people to own and ride horses.

Picture a movie based in the renaissance period. You can imagine the king riding into the shot on his noble steed, while the peasants walk in on foot; this is because of the imbalance of wealth between the king and his subjects. Now, take the millionaires and billionaires in the world and insert them into the king’s spot, and the rest of the world into the peasant’s spot. The rich have the privilege to trot around on their fancy horses while the rest of us travel in our subpar cars to work and school.

Do you think this is fair?

Horseback riding is a dubious sport when an animal of great value is involved; the person competing in the sport vanishes, showcasing your wealth through the one thing being judged, your horse.

Photo Credit:

In a division known as hunters, the judge is only allowed to judge the horse, and not acknowledge the rider upon its back. Because of this, the wealth difference between riders is highlighted and becomes very clear about who will take the win home.

Amongst the 5,000 horses and 2,800 riders at the equestrian festival near Palm Beach, Florida lies many of the world’s elite. Let’s say you are competing at this festival, and while you’re scrolling through the list of people you are competing against, you come across the last name that rings a bell in many people’s minds: Gates.

Jennifer Gates, also known as Bill Gates’, “the richest man in America,” daughter, is competing in your division. By seeing this name, you automatically know you stand no chance of beating her. Her dad is willing to spend millions of dollars on horses, which many families are not able to do, despite how much they want to.

“The billionaires are funding their daughters through the circuits and through life.”

Jennifer Gates, Charlotte Casiragni, Georgina Bloomberg, and Reed Kessler rise to the top of their divisions, as they prance around on their dreamworthy horses. At 18 years old, Reed Kessler became the youngest rider in show jumping history to ever compete at the Olympic Games. Her parents, being the multimillionaires (possibly billionaires) they are, could afford to buy and pay Reed top of the line horses and trainers.

Imagine a world full of horse shows that don’t judge the horse’s length of stride or merely on the way they look. A world where it is equal; as Thomas Jefferson once said, “All men are created equal.” If this is the rule we are truly supposed to live by, why doesn’t it apply?

We are not judged fairly, we are not given equal opportunities to prove ourselves to the judges, and we are most certainly not all of the same wealth. A new and upcoming way of competing has blossomed from the roots of riding.

It’s called the Interscholastic Equestrian Association or IEA for short. It is a show where all the competitors are taken to a barn and given horses of the same caliber to ride. With all of them being equal, and it not being the rider’s personal horse, the judge is finally only allowed to judge the rider and not the horse. If this becomes as popular as regular horse shows, it would finally give the people of average wealth in the US a chance to enjoy the sport they love.


Photo Credit:


Well, I guess to wrap up my rant about the unfairness of the various judging techniques, people eventually get adjusted to it and just accept that it will be hard as heck to rise to the top because the wealthy are favored. The wealthy people all around the world maintain control over the scoring; they mostly win and we mostly lose. Sports are supposed to be judged on how much time you dedicate and how much effort you are willing to put in; but instead this, it is based on how much money you’re willing to spend. But in the end, the elite equestrians “may be young, rich, and beautiful, but it takes more than fresh looks and a bank account to ride at the Olympic level.”

I Don’t Know

With SATs only a couple days away, only one question has constantly tainted my mind.

Where do I want to go to college?

These last several months I thought I was certain that NYU was the only school for me. I would apply early decision, and then I’d wait to see whether I’d be accepted to the university of my dreams. There, I’d immerse myself into the greatest city in the world. I’d study journalism or political science on a pre-law track. I’d study in artsy coffee shops with a group of my best friends during early mornings, and I’d go to Times Square during late nights. I couldn’t imagine a better city to spend the next several years of my life.

It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.

But the more I thought about it, was that really what I wanted? Yes… Well, maybe. I thought so.

I thought I was ready to leave all my friends and family on the west coast.

I thought I was ready to leave my horses behind while I blindly chased my dreams in the biggest city in the world. I never wanted anything more in my life. My horse would be waiting for me when I came back. He’d understand. I have dreams I need to follow.

But was I ready to go from the small towns I’ve known my whole life to the crowded, noise deafening streets of NYC? I dream about it every night. I dream about never being bored; never running out of exciting ways to spend my nights, even in the most minimalistic ways.

Was I ready to move from a small, rural school with only 120 students, to a large university with over 20,000 students? Yes. I want to walk onto my campus and see a new face I’ve never seen before. I want to meet a new person with a completely different life than mine, and I want to learn from them. I want to be in a place so large I can meet a new person everyday, where I can learn a new thing about a new topic from a new person everyday. I want to be another face in the crowd, but I also want the outlet where I can become a memorable face in that same crowd I merely pass through.

But was I ready to give up everything I’ve known my whole life? The only thing I’ve known my whole life? I don’t know.

Photo Credit:

I thought I knew. I always liked being the one in my friend group who could proudly say I had my whole future planned out, but now I don’t know. I can’t tell if I’m willing to settle for FaceTiming my friends instead of seeing them face to face. How could I possibly give up horseback riding for months at a time? The one passion that has made me excited for the end of the day. The passion I have put hours of tears, sweat, and money into in return for infinite feelings of happiness and an invaluable bond with another animal.

I thought I had the answers to all the questions I’m asking myself right now, but I realized I don’t, and there’s still so many questions that I haven’t even started comprehending yet.

What I do know is that I’m ready for college. As much as I love OVS for shaping me into the person I am today, I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. I may only be a junior, but I’m ready to go out on my own and find out my purpose in this world. Maybe I’ll find out NYU won’t be the school for me, or maybe I’ll find out that there’s no better match, but I’ll find that out sooner or later.