When people ask, what makes me a leader or what leadership is to me, I normally don’t have a response that accurately answers that question. After some soul searching and a lot of self-reflection I think I can answer that question to the best of my ability. For now: leadership is one of my passions because to me, it is all about making an impact on someone’s life. I have come to realize that my views have evolved since I was first introduced to what it meant to be a leader. I have built the current foundation of my philosophy on servant and charismatic leadership- leading by putting others before myself and inspiring passion and motivation in others through my persistent personality. I want to live my life inspiring others to live their lives knowing that they have purpose in the world.

I don’t think that I label myself as someone who has achieved true leadership status, I don’t think I ever fully will. I believe that I will forever be expanding my capacity and gaining the knowledge to allow myself the opportunity to diversify my experiences. To broaden my experiences, I try to reach out to one new person everyday and have a genuine conversation with them, the topic being what they want to discuss. I approach every conversation like I do a task, facilitation, debrief or challenge- with an open mind and ready to adapt to anything that may arise. It is my understanding that, being a leader isn’t about who takes charge, it is about who the other people choose to follow.

When you are in a decent sized group of people, and a task needs to be accomplished, people are going to step up and try to take the lead. There is going to be that one person that everyone will start to cling to in the process. The leader. A leader must be conscious of all their followers and recognize that the actions they make can positively or negatively affect those who have decided to follow their legacy.  Legacy- that sounds terrifying.

As a high school graduate, I truly believe that I left a legacy to those who saw me as a leader, specifically through the theatre and music. From people of my age all the way down to 4 year olds, I am constantly being told how my passion for the arts and dedication to the process has inspired them to go for their dreams and only live a passionate life. I had never noticed how my actions could influence those around me until I took on the role of director for a youth theatre camp. Not only were my campers looking to me for guidance, but my creative team was as well. I like to believe that the legacy I left behind in my high school was to live life enjoying every moment, and take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. I know that now, looking back, but I never thought that someone would ask me what my legacy was when I was in high school, but when they did- I was not at all prepared.

Imagine this: you are standing in front of someone who has inspired you, someone you admire and aspire to be as successful as, someone you look up to as a role model. Imagine them standing in front of you, eyes filled with motivation and they ask you one of the hardest questions you have ever been asked: What is your legacy? You choke. Your idol is standing in front of you and you choke. You really start to reevaluate your life. which is exactly what happened to me. When I choked, I took time to find my core values and decided what made them so influential in my life.

My family. They are why I am who I am today. They are there through thick and thin and have supported my every move. Due to the family that I grew up in and how I was raised, I know that having a family of my own is something I am not willing to give up. My brother and my parents are some of the only stable things I have ever had in my life.

My little brother is my best friend, we have a bond that doesn’t compare to any other. My parents have always told us that, “friends will come and go, but you will only ever have your brother (or sister).” For instance, on the last big vacation we took before I moved away for college, we were headed home and it was my turn to drive. Having the connection we have my brother took the opportunity to sit in the front seat beside me. After maybe thirty minutes of travel, and not a single word, he simply grabbed my hand and held it tightly the entire time I was behind the wheel. A simple gesture that most siblings will never share.

My parents have raised me into the person that I am today. They have always told me to do what I truly love to do and just be myself, no matter what it takes. What kind of parents let their academically successful daughter, drop a business and communication major to pursue musical theatre? My parents are those kinds of parents. I shoved my dreams aside and told my parents that I was going to get a degree in business and communication and they supported me but hinted that they thought that I wasn’t being true to myself. Two months into my first semester, I called my parents and told them that I was no longer pursuing communication or business, instead I wanted to pursue music theatre and therapeutic recreation. They continuously support me without any hesitation, to encourage me to do what I have a passion for. They see that I have to live a life of purpose and meaning. I don’t want to just live, I want to be and feel alive, and it is all because of the support that my family has and continues to provide me with.

Love. To love others, you must first learn to love yourself, and find the strength to continue through all of the times where is seems so impossible. The life of a human being seems like forever, but really it is only a lifetime. The day you are born, you were never given a specific number of days on this Earth. You never know when your last day will come, so why waste the time you have being hateful and mean? People lose their lives to freak accidents, disease, natural causes and things that humans have no control over. There should be no reason that a life should be lost because of the choices others have made. If I spend more time expressing love to those around me, maybe I will stop losing people to causes that people have control over. Maybe suicide, homicide, domestic violence, violent discrimination or anything involving hatred will start to diminish in existence from those around me. All in all, I live life loving others fully and that is all there is to that.

Balance. I knew that balance was one value that would stay to the end. It wraps every other value all into one. Respect, wealth, health, success, integrity, power, honesty, happiness, all of the other things that I value I have to balance equally. Balance allows me to divide my priorities evenly throughout my life and if I don’t I could end up neglecting something that I love, and that is not what I want to do. Being the person I am, the leader people see me as, I want to be known as the person who devoted her time to as much as she possibly could. In devoting my time to things, I give 100% effort to all that I do, and when I realize that my plate is full, I won’t take anymore on in fear that I may neglect a responsibility. I am simply a family oriented woman of balance who loves all people.

When I die, the only thing that I want to be able to say is that I lived a life filled with love, innovation, growth, adventure, laughter, inspiration and passion. I want people to remember me because of how I made them feel. I want leadership to be considered one of the most influential attributes that an individual could possibly have because everyone is and has the potential to be a leader. I simply want to go through life being and showing my true self and allowing others to be unapologetically passionate in all that they do. I want all people to live their lives knowing that they have purpose in the world. Or at least in my life and in their own.