Me? A leader? My past self could only laugh at the very suggestion of that title being assigned to me. As a quiet kid, taking on leadership roles was so foreign to me– as if that title were reserved only for those who were loud, authoritative, or just incredibly confident. And so, I decided to accept the fact that I simply was not born to lead.
That is, up until highschool– I began to become informed on how being a leader is crucial to sticking out on my college applications. Thus, as a high achiever obsessed with academic validation, taking on leadership roles became a prioritized task on my college application to-do list.
Being elected as captain of my club soccer team at the beginning of freshman year was the first time in my life where I took on a serious leadership role. I was extremely nervous and confused– I had no idea how to take on the role as captain when my whole life I’d been quiet and reserved. Overwhelmed by this new responsibility, I decided to start by reflecting on what about my qualities made my coach believe I was worthy of the captain role in the first place. Throughout the season prior, I’d been focusing on my growth and learning to become a better player by changing my reaction to mistakes and how I approached challenges. I realized that I could project my expertise towards adapting a growth mindset onto my teammates, leading by example. I began to lead and enhance group discussions during games and practices, moved onto the next play whenever I made a mistake, increasingly used my voice on the field, and focused on my game every second of the play. I wasn’t a particularly loud or authoritative person, but I found other ways to act as a leader by embracing my qualities which contributed to my team maintaining a positive environment and achieving success throughout the season.
From being captain of both my club and high school soccer team, I learned that having a leadership title is not to place oneself on a “higher podium” or for the sole purpose of standing out on one’s college applications. Instead, being a leader means taking on the responsibility of inspiring others and lifting them up to reach their full potential, all while being aware of the fact that you, yourself, still have just as much learning to do and work to put in.
If I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t fit for the captain role simply because I didn’t feel that I was at my full confidence, that mindset would have immediately determined the insecure player that I would represent on the field. I instead took a leap of faith by choosing to just trust myself and my ability to step onto the field with confidence I pulled out of nowhere. Everyone is capable of having a profound impact on the people and environment around them. No matter what your personality or confidence level, your own unique qualities and strengths are what make you just as capable of leadership as anyone else. The only way to grow as a student, athlete, or person in general is to adopt something that you’ve never tried before– adapt to taking on the role of leadership.