Wednesday, February 17, 2016

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

Getting Involved

I joined Her Campus in my first semester of college. I wanted a place where I could write but nothing that would be too rigorous right at the beginning of my college career. I considered writing for The Daily Iowan and even got accepted to work there, but three articles per week seemed like a little too much to jump into at first.

Her Campus seemed like a good place to start out writing, and it also seemed like a good place to meet some awesome girls who shared my passion of writing. So I joined.

At first, it was a little outside of my comfort zone. I was going to meetings with girls who I didn't know and who all seemed older and more experienced than I was. Sure, I had a couple of high school internships on my resume, but these girls were in college, and that just seemed like another whole playing field.

As I got more comfortable in the group and started getting some articles published on the website, I was feeling good. I felt like I belonged in the group. Soon my first semester came to an end, and I went home for winter break.

During break, our Campus Correspondent (Her Campus speak for President or Editor-in-Chief) sent out an email explaining that she was starting her search for her replacement. She would be graduating that coming May and needed someone to take over for her.

I was really liking the group, so I decided to shoot an email back saying that I was interested in the position. I also said I knew that I was young and had been in the group for a shorter period of time than almost anyone else. I didn't expect to get the position, but I wanted to put myself out there anyway, just to show my interest and dedication. I wasn't expecting anything at all. I certainly wasn't expecting to get the job. But I got it.

I try not to praise myself too much for this accomplishment because if I'm being honest, it turns out I was the only one who even showed interest in taking over. The current CC decided that she wanted to split her position into two, which wasn't uncommon for HC chapters. I would be taking over editorial, and someone else would be taking over marketing.

I briefly met my co-CC at the end of the year, and I remember thinking that she was really nice and seemed like a good person to work with. Then I went home for the summer and started thinking about the task to come.

Learning to Lead

Over the summer I started to come up with some plans and ideas of things I wanted to implement in HC in the year to come. As I prepared these plans and continued to think about what my role really meant, I started to become really nervous. How was I supposed to co-lead a group of 25+ girls, most of whom would be older than I? Would they take me seriously? Would I be able to juggle all of it?

Throughout the summer, my co-CC and I corresponded a lot via text and email, just because that's what worked best for both of our schedules. I was excited to be involved in planning. I've always loved planning and organizing, so it was fun to get into that in a leadership position.

Soon the school year was upon us. My co-CC and I had posted on our HC Facebook group, which is our main form of communication as a chapter, a few times during the summer, but that was mostly stuff to introduce ourselves and tell everyone to have a great summer. Now we would be getting into the serious stuff: leading.

I've never really pursued many leadership positions, particularly those that involve leading peers, just because, to be frank, that scares the living daylights out of me. Getting up in front of a room of my peers was one of my biggest fears, and it still isn't the easiest thing in the world.

I got more comfortable giving instruction and communicating with my writers via text and email. But people always say it's easier to communicate behind a screen than it is face-to-face. How true that is. I was still scared to death to lead a meeting.

I'll be honest: this story is pretty anti-climactic. Our first chapter meeting really wasn't that big of a deal. My co-CC got sick, so I had to lead it alone. But then only six girls showed up, and they were mostly girls I was already fairly comfortable talking to.

Then the informational meeting came. Of course one of goals was to grow our chapter, and that meant advertising ourselves and holding meetings to inform girls of who we are. That one was way scary, but again, this meeting was to get girls to join us, not necessarily to lead them quite yet. Plus I had my co-CC that time, which made things a lot easier.

Then came the big chapter meeting with new members and old. I think total at that meeting there were about 20-30 girls. SCARY. I was freaking out as girls kept coming in. How was I supposed to lead this many girls, instruct them, let alone even talk in front of all of them?

I don't really remember that meeting, actually. It's kind of a blur (I might have even blacked out a little from the nerves). Plus I think I was sweating profusely and stuttering a lot. BUT I DID IT. And getting through that meeting proved to me that I could do this. I had survived that meeting, and now I could focus on being a leader because it was my responsibility to do so.

Facing the Fear

I still get nervous at meetings. I still fumble my words a little. I still start to sweat when I see more and more girls walk through that door . But our chapter increased to 50+ girls this semester! More than anything, that number is SO EXCITING to me because it means that my co-CC and I are doing so many good things, so many things that are right. I never imagined that we would grow our chapter this much in a little more than a semester.

Being in this position has helped me grow as a leader. It's helped me to develop skills that always frightened me. Even though it makes me nervous, I can talk in front of large-ish groups of my peers. I laugh at myself when I fumble my words. I can look up from my notes and take a minute to smile at all 50 of those beautiful faces because I helped to get them there.

I am so thankful for this opportunity with Her Campus. I've learned so much already, and like I said, I'm only a little over one semester in! I absolutely cannot wait to see what we accomplish in the time to come, and I can't wait to see myself grow even more as a leader.

Her Campus helped me to face my fears of speaking up, putting myself out there, leading; and while it's been scary, it's been so fun and rewarding. I've gained so much confidence. Eleanor Roosevelt was right; take a minute to reread her words in the title of this post. What have you done lately that scared you? Or should I say, what have you done lately that scared you but helped you to gain strength, courage, and confidence? Try something scary; you might just surprise yourself.

Lots of love,

Eleanor Roosevelt, "You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life"