Throughout my life, I always had people tell me I was a leader, but I didn’t know what they meant. I think any young person who runs for positions in the student council and likes politics always gets comments like, “I can’t wait for you to be president one day!” because of their involvement. While these comments were nice, I didn’t feel that just because I participated in a lot of clubs and held leadership positions, I was necessarily a leader. I was just a leader in the sense that I was in charge of something, not because I was performing well in the position. Going into college, I knew I wanted to be a leader but I didn’t know how to categorize my leadership style. But throughout the leadership program, I learned some of my top leadership traits were positivity, strategicness, and communication, and I was able to build on those during my time in college.
During my first two years of college, I served as an AU Ambassador and Director of Activism for the AU College Democrats, but I never felt a huge sense of responsibility in these roles. These were just small roles in much larger groups. But then during my third/senior year, I was elected Communications Director for AU Dems, which required a lot more involvement than my role as Director of Activism. Serving as Communication Director of the largest club on campus in a politically charged, very left-leaning school was not easy. Since AU Dems falls under the College Dems branch of the DNC, we are limited in what we can and cannot support. Our statements can not stray too far from what the Democratic Party leaders believe, which often caused conflict.
In the end, I learned how to utilize my communications skill and combine it with my strategicness and positivity to help the rest of the executive board understand my thoughts on why we should or should not comment on various issues. I became more aware of my actions and how those would spur the reactions of those around me. Also, I had to adjust and be better at working collaboratively which was difficult until we got to know each other better, which is why team building is crucial. I received a lot of opinions and suggestions, but I learned over time when I was right to say no. I recognized how to pick my battles so that when I felt strongly about a certain post or statement, people would take my feedback more seriously. Now that my time in college is coming to a close, I am a much more confident leader than the day I started. Leadership isn’t about pleasing everyone—it’s about listening to people and understanding their concerns, but having the confidence to make the unpopular choice sometimes if you know it’s the right thing to do. I now know that I am not a leader because I held these positions; I am a leader because I adapted to situations and used my skills to make the greatest impact.