As a self-identified BuzzFeed fanatic, I can confidently say that I’ve taken more personality quizzes than I can count. Most are about silly, random topics that don’t have much basis in reality (i.e, what kind of bread are you?), but often times these quizzes ask a pretty loaded question: how would you describe yourself? The options are normally fairly generic, and every time I tend to choose something like “friendly” or “introverted.” Though my responses to this question have varied over the years, I have always steered clear of answers like “ambitious,” “outgoing” and definitely “leader.”
My feelings towards leadership have always been a bit rocky. I see myself as a hard worker, but leading others never came naturally to me. I always felt too introverted, too quiet, too conflict avoidant. I never wanted to rock the boat or be responsible for something that could potentially fail if I messed up. In short: being a leader felt paralyzing to me.
However, things began to change when I found myself sitting in the office of The Fordham Ram for the very first time. When I first joined the Ram as a copy editor on Volume 101, I honestly didn’t think very much of it. I knew I liked to edit and wanted to get more involved on campus, so I figured it would be a good fit. What I discovered was that I really had a passion for editing, and sitting around the copy desk every Tuesday night until 1 a.m. gave me a real sense of community.
Still, I never saw myself as more than a copy editor. That is until the end of my first semester on the Ram, when Volume 101’s two copy chiefs, Maggie Rothfus, FCRH ’20, and Vanessa DeJesus, FCRH ’21, suggested that I apply for their position next volume. Unsurprisingly, I went back-and-forth for months over whether I should apply and only decided to submit my application at the last possible moment.
When I found out that I actually got the position as one of the two copy chiefs for the Ram, I was so excited to get started and proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone, but as the first night on the job got closer and closer, all the doubts I’d had about my ability to lead came creeping back in. By the time the first production night came around, I almost felt too anxious to function. Still, I pushed through and decided on using the “fake it till you make it” approach. Maybe if I acted like I knew exactly what I was doing, nobody would notice that I was suddenly feeling very unqualified.
Yet, I eventually came to realize that I didn’t even need to act that way to lead our new group of copy editors. Sure, I was nervous and things got hectic at times, but at the end of the day, the newspaper was still released on time, and I’d survived my first week as a leader of the copy team. As the weeks have gone on, being a copy chief has started to come more naturally to me, mainly due to the fact that I’ve stopped caring about being the type of leader that I always thought I should be. Instead, I act as a leader in my own way.
There’s no one formula to being a good leader. I had always thought that since I wasn’t the most assertive or most charismatic person in a room, I didn’t have the right personality to be in charge. But leaders come from all walks of life, and just because you don’t feel like a natural born leader doesn’t mean that you can’t become one.
Like most people, leaders are formed through passion and practice. For people like me, who see themselves as more comfortable in the background than at the forefront, the biggest step can often be gaining the confidence to realize that you are qualified enough to step up and take charge. At the end of the day, anybody can be a leader, as long as they have the right attitude and the will to try.
From now on, I’m going to start checking off the box for “leader” on those personality quizzes. Just because I can’t see it at times doesn’t mean it isn’t true.