One of the leadership workshops held at the end of each session at the National Student Leadership Conference is called "What I Discovered." This time typically consists of many encouraging statements, epiphanies and tears, lots of tears.
I feel that it's only appropriate that I share some of the things I discovered over the past month-and-a-half. I think it's much more than I anticipated at the beginning of my NSLC experience.
I discovered my true self. I discovered that I have been hiding my true personality and mentality from people for fear of judgment and being ostracized. This experienced has eradicated that fear.
Over the course of the three sessions, I had the amazing opportunity of being a part of, I continuously encouraged the students in my TA group (aka, the best TA group) to be completely themselves. I asked each group if they felt they could be themselves wherever home was for them, and many said they couldn't be.
It astounded me that they felt they had to put on a mask to their friends, classmates and even family. It wrecked my heart that they were somewhat ashamed of who they are. Then I realized that I was no different.
After asking them a series of questions to assess the cause of their "alter egos," I attempted to encourage them with a passionate speech speaking to their strengths, passions and character. Little did I know that I was speaking to myself.
I don't write this to say that I've been a completely fake person all my life. I don't believe I've been anyone but myself. However, I do believe that I withhold some of my beliefs and actions. I fear the judging eye that may come my way. I fear the repercussions that may come with being completely forthright and unfiltered. I fear the joy I will experience in being my truest self.
Working with the best people in the world has enabled me to become myself. Through constant encouragement and intentional discussion, my colleagues turned best friends helped to afford a massive change in my life. I'm a better leader and person because of these people.
Thank you, friends, staff and students for this summer. Thank you for your unmatchable energy and knowledge. It was an honor being here. With that, I am exhausted. I'm gonna nap now...