The Rotary invited the Arnold Senior Class of 2024 for nice meal at Grazers.  After a dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and salad bar, Ms. Lange gave an inspiring presentation to seniors.

Kiersten Lange, Banker at Heartland Bank in Kearney, Nebraska, was the guest speaker at the Arnold Rotary meeting on April 4, 2024. Lange is a successful business woman, as well as a Kearney Dawn Rotary member, and District #5630 Chairman for the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp. She is also the niece of Becky Dailey and Arnold sponsored Lange to attend RYLA back in 2016, and she has returned to RYLA every summer as either a Junior Counselor, a Senior Counselor, the Leadership Team, a Co-Director, or the Main Director for the last two years.

“RYLA allowed me to connect with several like-minded individuals that had a passion for service and giving back to our communities. It was also my first true introduction to Rotary which helped me join a club while I was in college and create personal and business connections alike. I’m a huge believer that it’s not always what you know but who you know and I would not be where I am at without the mentorship I have gained through being a part of RYLA and Rotary as a whole,” said Lange.

The content of Lange’s speech is below:

I truly believe in quality over quantity. In friendships, in possessions, and especially for speakers. So as I am up here this may not be the longest speech you’ve ever experienced, but I hope there are bits you are able to take away and truly ponder as you move on to the next chapters of your life where inevitably change will happen. In the coming months and years, you will evolve, friends will come and what worked for you yesterday may not work for you tomorrow. One thing that will not evolve is being true to yourself.

There’s a phrase out there that says “You are the sum of the 5 people closest to you.” This may be true however, if you really think of who the person is that you spend all your time with can we not say that that person is yourself? Through this transition from high school, you will be asked a lot of the same questions. What are you going to do? What college are you going to? What is your major? What, what, what. But in the long run…. The WHAT does not matter. Those questions do not define WHO you are.

Knowing yourself, and knowing who you are, is not a one-day job or a 3-week long project. It’s a lifelong journey. We are living in a world of distractions. It takes less than a second to start wishing for something that we never wanted just because everyone else seems to have it/enjoy it. In such a world, where you are always surrounded by noise, it is tough to stay connected to that voice inside of you. And let me repeat it again, it’s a lifelong process to not only know yourself, but to secondly not to lose yourself in the process either. The need to fit in, to be the most popular or interesting person, and to be lovingly accepted by others is desired by us all. But, how long do you think you can handle this? For how long do you think you can suppress and hide your real identity? For how long are you going to be different from others? You try to be different for everyone around you. You are different for your teachers, different for your boss, different for your friends, and different for your loved ones. Imagine yourself as a computer and see how you have opened different tabs of your personality for each person you meet. New person or interaction equals new tab.

I can remember in school one of my teachers said: “You all seem to act too smart as if you are the royalty of the world when in reality, if I ask you to speak about yourself for as many minutes as your age, let’s say 18 minutes, then none of you can speak even for half of that. They continued, and when I say about yourself, I don’t mean the worldly tags that you have accumulated, I mean the REAL YOU!”

Back then, I didn’t understand what they meant. I thought they were being angry for no reason and just “old”. But now, after a lot of self-evaluation, paying attention to my wants, my needs, and lots of mentorship. I have come to the realization that you and I are beyond the titles and tags of this world. It happens to all of us. Everyone gets different kinds of tags from the world and starts defining themselves as by said tag. And that tag can leave its imprint on your heart until you can no longer bear its burden. So, I suggest you let go of all the tags that the world has thrown at you and have attached to your soul thus far. Not only for yourself but free others from the tags you’ve given to them. Don’t define people. Don’t put people in a box. Don’t give them tags, because your one tag can be a pain in someone else’s heart. However, we all have become a collection of tags and labels that we have either willingly imposed on ourselves or that the world threw at us. The tags of a good or bad person, poor or rich, failure or successful, farmer or banker, smart or dumb. The more tags we collect, the faster we start losing our authentic selves. And it is even sadder that we start treating each other as a tag. But when we hold onto one particular tag, we inadvertently cage ourselves to behave/talk/think a certain way and we end up walking on the same path as everyone else. But I think that our entire personality, or existence, should not revolve around one person, one thing, or one tag. We should be undefinable. No one, even ourselves can put us in this cage.And if someone tries to define us, it should take them hours to talk about our personality and WHO we truly are. I don’t want you to think that I am up here preaching or that I think of myself as this perfect picture of what I am saying. I have tried hard to change myself into the most acceptable and loving version as well. In fact, there are times when by default, I try to hide who I truly am or what I am thinking just to present myself as a ‘wanted’ person. Why? Why do we have to try so hard to get others’ attention and is it worth losing our real identity?

You and I are a piece of everything we own, every place we have traveled, every person we have met, and every word we read. Everything leaves a mark on our soul and it paints our personality into who we are today. We are stitched together by the songs we enjoy, people we love, adventurous experiences we’ve had, books we read and the characters in them that we loved for a while, and countless others like these that shape not only our perception but our personality.

And that’s why I said earlier, that learning about yourself is a lifelong process. You change every day a little. You evolve with every song, every book, every article, every video, and every thought you come across. If you want to know yourself, you have to be interested and invest in yourself for the rest of your life. Remember one thing, You are beyond a particular tag. You cannot be labeled. Be undefinable. Let them wonder who you are while you create a personality for yourself that makes you fall in love with yourself every day.

Be free and let others be free too. Don’t make life so specific that it feels like carrying a burden. When we start defining ourselves with one particular thing, our entire focus revolves around it. And when that one thing goes wrong, we will end up feeling like a failure. You all come from a community that cares about WHO you will become. They are invested in your success and happiness. So when you find yourselves in whatever season is to come, know that there are people in your corner. There is no shame in not knowing of where you are going as long as you stay true to WHO you are.