Coming into my fourth year at Grand View, I still had not had a proper leadership position. Because of my naturally passive nature, it was never really anything that I thought would be feasible for me.
At the end of my spring semester last year I was approached with shiny new opportunities that would allow me to step into those shoes of leaders before me and I was TERRIFIED. I did not think that I had enough experience or strength to lead other students to being successful in whatever they do, with writing or advocating.
But when life throws you opportunities that may strengthen your skill set, you have to grab them. So I did, and this semester I began the process of my first year as a club president for my campus' AAUW group as well as the role of tutor and editor in their respective areas. On top of all of this, it was my first year as a supervisor in my work study position at the library.
With leadership, comes a large deal of responsibility, which is something that I realized right away. All of these students were looking to me for direction and advice, to say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement.
A week or so in, I had a mental breakdown. I could not create the mindset of being able to take on all of this on my own. It was scary, uncharted waters for me and I dove right into the ocean with the multiple positions I had acquired. I decided that I was going to quit, that I could not do what I had set myself up to do this semester, overall I was tired and overwhelmed and I wanted out.
I set up appointments with my professors and expressed my concerns, but it did not turn out the way that I hoped. I had committed to these jobs, students needed me, and I was leaving them without a tutor, an editor or supervisor by giving everything up. I realized that I was so caught up in my own head that I had not realized that my heart and feelings were not the only ones on the line.
The idea of entering a professional work environment was scary, and I have begun to have deadlines and responsibilities that seemed more like the workforce than a class in school. It is a hard pill to swallow when you realize you cannot just back out of things when they become too hard, and realizing that in your career you are going to have to muscle through whatever they throw at you.
But because of the fact that I am still in school, I still had resources available to me.
By speaking up and talking to professors and friends about how I was feeling and what I was experiencing, we were able to find tools that could help me continue to be successful without giving up. I realized my limitations and took some initiative in order to make all of these new opportunities less grueling and more rewarding.
I cut back hours in one area, talk to professors about my busy schedule in order to have a conversation about possible help and extensions when necessary. Finally, by allowing myself to continue to have an open communication with my advisors and professors, allowed them into my thoughts and keep them updated on how I am holding up.
The change has been eye-opening and rewarding, to say the least. I feel like I am learning how to step out of my comfort zone and teach others as well as learning about how my mind works and how it is affected by change. I am becoming more comfortable with flexibility and scheduling time to get things done. I am learning that everything is a process that I am not supposed to accomplish all at one.
Most importantly I learned that I am capable of overcoming my anxious thoughts and letting them be known to who they will affect so that we can proceed in a way that will be beneficial for all involved. Being a leader is scary, it is hard work and it is brand new, but it is something that I am continuously working on and because of the challenges I face, I grow stronger.