Many things happen in life that you don’t necessarily plan for. My story is a cliché one; something that sounds like it came out of a Hollywood movie plot. I was the quiet girl in high school, who sometimes spoke up during class, but would rather keep to herself and her friends. I wanted to take on leadership roles, but I didn’t know how. It didn’t seem like it’d be easy, either. But since I’m writing this post now, I guess you could say I somehow got from where I was three years ago to where I am now.
But I didn’t get there by pixie dust. In fact, there was a lot more faith and trust (sorry, Tink). When picking the college that I would call home for the next four years, I made a conscious decision to go to Rutgers for multiple reasons, but one of them was to branch out and force myself out of my comfort zone. I had known the same groups of friends for so long; it was time to see what else was out there.
From the start, I joined multiple organizations and put my on the email listserv for every organization I would be remotely interested in at the Fall Involvement Fair. I had no idea what I was doing, but I have this theory: when you find your passion, something clicks. Instead of the saying “time flies when you’re having fun,” maybe it should be “time flies when you find your passion.”
It’s usually easier to start in organizations in your first year, fall semester. I joined the Scarlet Ambassador team (tour guides for Rutgers University) and the Douglass Orientation Committee from the start, and being surrounded by leaders who had developed their leadership style already, fostered an incredible growing process that gave me an informal cohort to experience leadership with for the first time, I was able to see the accomplishments that I could aim for and potentially reach.
Even so, the first year doesn’t hold all of the keys to leadership. It is never too late. Even if you don’t start in the beginning of your first year, fall semester, on the first day of classes, that doesn’t mean you can’t join. I joined the Rutgers chapter of She’s the First for one meeting, and then could not keep up with it for the rest of the semester. When news about the organization popped up on my newsfeed, I decided to give it a try again. And now, here I am, currently holding an e-board position as treasurer, having only been in the chapter for one full semester.
I don’t want to say that leadership gets easier, but finding opportunities to exercise leadership start appearing all over, as you continually develop your own style. I still have so much to learn, but keeping an open mind has opened many opportunities that I would have never considered, previously.
I think that everyone has a different leadership style. The thing is, you cannot find it unless you actively go out and search for it. There is no instruction manual for leadership. Put yourself in slightly uncomfortable situations, and see where they take you. Before long, you’re sailing, flying (Titanic movie reference), on your very own, custom built, leader-ship.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
-Neale Donald Walsch