What makes a leader?
This is a question that has haunted me most of my undergraduate career. When I first began working with the Women’s Student Action Coalition I questioned my ability to lead and I worried that other students would question my competence. Peter Parker’s uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility” (excuse my Spiderman reference, it works here. I swear.) I always feared being a terrible leader or using my leadership position in a way that would cause no change. Eventually I learned that leadership styles differ and I am an individual in all that I do, this includes my ability to lead the Women’s Student Action Coaliton.
I realized that I was competent and able only through opportunities where I was a leader. I was thrust in front of groups of students and expected to convince them that I was a suitable President. I was expected to hold the floor at meetings and to give my opinion. A student once approached me asking my opinion about an issue concerning students at the time, and I remember thinking Oh crap, I don’t know how I feel about this, I’m representing the group! But these experiences taught me that I was able to lead group discussions and that speaking in public wasnt as scary as I’d thought. But more than anything leading gave me confidence, and I began to witness myself transform. I became less concerned with the way people felt about my opinions and was proud of myself and my accomplishments. I believe that this is where true change can occur and we can empower women and girls. Telling women that they are strong, intelligent, and capable does not suffice. We must let them show themselves. Always accept an opportunity to become a leader or support a fellow leader. If that’s in a simple way like leading a class discussion, running for class president or voting progressive women into office. Take it. Realizing that you are able is empowering.
It is my humble opinion that Trinity is filled with inspirational and intelligent young women. I see so many of my classmates and I think Wow, Jane is so talented, or Rita, is such a great speaker. What’s sad about Jane and Rita is that usually they doubt their abilities. What’s unfortunate about Jane and Rita is that they don’t want to be leaders because they are afraid. This is not a problem I see in young men. The world is missing out on great female leaders. I am pleasantly frightened at the amount of power we could harness if we acknowledged and used the power within us. That’s what the women of our generation are lacking, the knowledge of their own power and competence. So, the next time you hear a young woman doubt herself, remind her that she has all the tools she needs to be effective within her.