Ceily Rae Highberger Adrian Brannan Buckaroogirl Buckaroo Girl Cowgirl Magazine
Photo by Ceily Rae Highberger.

Dear Cowgirl,  

It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it?  

Not belonging. Not fitting in, not being what everyone wants you to be. The world wants to put your square self into a round hole… and no matter how hard you try to fit into their idea of perfect, it just doesn’t work. 

I got a letter from a 14-year-old girl who was wondering why she was disliked by and made fun of by so many of her peers. She wanted to know how to “fit in” without losing who she wants to be. Responding made me feel conflicted because, a) I know the feeling, and b) I am always hesitant about giving “advice” to younger girls… because, well, I’m not their mother.  

What I did tell her, and what I hope you know, is that it is just not possible. 

You cannot be of the world and not truly belong in it. You cannot have one foot in the world’s idea of perfect, and one foot in the life YOU feel you belong in.  

And it’s damn difficult.  

To not fit in, to not conform, and to not be like everyone else will set you aside, set you apart. 

You will lose friends, acquaintances, and sleep over it. 

But in the end, I promise sticking to who you are, and not what everyone wants you to be, will pay off.  

I remember when I made my first album, many folks told me I was crazy to have electric guitars and drums, or to write songs about the topics I wanted to sing about. It was too “rock.” Didn’t “sound” like cowboy music. Nothing “fit” into the world of cowboy music as folks saw fit. But even as a 14-year-old girl in the studio, I still knew I wasn’t going to make something like everyone else—and to stay true to what and who I was, there would be electric guitars and topics people didn’t feel belonged in cowboy music.  

And that was okay. I knew there was a mold to be followed, and I refused to be shoved into.  

You, whoever and whatever you feel that you are, hold the key to a happy life because you have something that no one else in the world possesses, and that is the essence of YOU. Whatever that means, whatever it dictates that you do, it is what will generate and create success, whether that be success in business, parenthood, school, friendship—success that can only happen if you allow yourself to be perfectly and imperfectly true to you. No matter who that is.  

Hang tough, dear cowgirl, YOU are just enough.