Day Sixty-Nine (Leadership)

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I have never seen myself as a leader. I’m a Hufflepuff, the sidekick, a viola. I don’t play the lead roles, I don’t save the day, and I don’t steal the spotlight. I don’t want to be in charge of anyone. I’m far more content staying in the background and following somebody else’s lead. Could I maybe do better than them? Depending on the person and the situation, it’s possible. But to put myself in that position of power is not my desire or goal at all. The idea honestly scares the crap out of me. Why would I want to be in charge of anyone?

When I think of a “leader”, my mind immediately goes to Martin Luther King Jr. Someone with such a strong vision, such passion, and such an inspiring soul. Someone who is almost more than a man. After him, I think of people like Rosa Parks, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Susan B Anthony, and Malcolm X. I think of fictional characters like Katniss, Dumbledore, Atticus Finch, and John Keating. To think of myself at that level? It’s ludicrous. I’m no leader. I’m not a hero. And I’m definitely not an example anyone should ever follow. I consider “leader” to be a high mark to hit and the idea of being one intimidates the hell out of me. I’m a follower. I’m a silent observer. I’m not meant to be the guy in charge.

And yet. Modern day society seems obsessed with the idea of “leadership skills”. Being a leader is one of the greatest skills a person can have on their resume. I participated in a program in college that was called a “leadership initiative” and included dumb trust exercises, paperwork on beliefs, and team-building activities. I took a class my freshman year on “how to be a leader”. And personally? I think that both were absolute bullshit. Being a leader is not something you can learn in a seminar or in a class. In my opinion, it’s mostly a natural born trait. But it can be learned through experience. If you’re skilled enough in something, if you have enough of a passion for something, or if you have a natural charisma…being a leader just kinda happens. It takes effort, sure. But it’s something that you just do. You can’t become a leader by reading about it. You become one by being one.

Despite the fact that I have no yearning to be a leader to anyone, I have found myself in leadership positions many times before. My senior year of High School, I was the oldest kid in my section in the Orchestra. I may not have been the first stand, but I had the admiration and respect of the younger students. It was so weird. I was also the oldest kid in my theatre class and all the younger kids were a little intimidated of me. It was the strangest thing. I was friends with mostly younger kids in the school musical too, kids who were outcasts like me. In some way, my friends looked up to me (and I will definitely admit to looking up to them). That whole year was like a weird dream. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that somehow my age caused younger students to look at me like I knew what I was doing.

In college, I avoided taking on leadership positions. I know it looks good on a resume, but I really hate being in charge of anything. I don’t care for the responsibility. Even so, I became the Secretary of my school’s fencing team. Not a particularly hard position. But somehow it was still most definitely a leadership position. I had a vote in important decisions. I was responsible for keeping the board informed on what was going on and keeping the documentation organized. And when I became a senior, like in High School, I was suddenly someone that others occasionally followed. Who others looked to for advice. Like in High School, it was super weird.

Now, at work, I have spent the past two days helping to train new employees. For some inexplicable reason, both nights the new people attached themselves to me and not my more qualified co-workers. They looked to me for what to do. They asked me for help. They took their cues from me. I’m no leader. I have no idea why anyone ever thinks it’s a good idea to follow my lead. I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. If you model yourself after me, you’re heading down a slippery slope.

But perhaps leaders come from the people who really don’t want to be leaders. I don’t know. Maybe my awkwardness just makes me approachable. I know I personally find it easier to talk to higher ups who are awkward and down to earth. It’s the people with power who give off the impression that they’re making things up as they go and just trying not to fuck up that I find myself trusting more. At least they’re honest. But, for me personally? I don’t want power. I’ve never understood the appeal at all. I just want to make my friends and family happy and to find happiness myself. I want to sit in the background and soak it all in. To tell stories and amuse the people in the back. But being a leader? Despite being a crucial career skill, it’s really just not my thing.

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