How Being a Leader Changed My College Experience

The transition from high school to college can be shocking, to say the least. One of the changes that resonated with me the most freshman year was no longer being a leader. Junior and senior year of high school, I took on many leadership roles. Some were mentorship based, and others were just leadership positions. Being in these leadership roles naturally makes you hold yourself to a higher standard; people are paying attention to what you do, and your actions hold more weight.

Going from the “top of the food chain” to the bottom as a freshman was shocking; I had no one to hold me accountable other than myself. I began to question my values and question what held me to them anymore. I began to have to define myself separate from my family, my high school, and my mentees. I think everyone goes through this to some extent in college. We are left without many of our defining factors, and we have to define ourselves for one of the first times in our lives.

I gave myself an “almost” break from being a leader, and it felt good. I let myself grow on my own for about a semester and a half. I still knew that I wanted to be making an impact somewhere, whether it be in my community or in the lives of the people around me. I applied to be a FYSOP leader not expecting much, and ended up getting in. I didn’t think anything of it until summer ended and it was time to head back to campus early for training. To be completely honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. The thought of thirteen-hour days of being basically “on call” sounded exhausting, and I really just wanted to see my friends again.

I went into training pessimistically, I was happy to be back on campus, but was not at all ready to take on the responsibility of 10-13 first years. My outlook on FYSOP changed almost immediately. Staff training was indeed exhausting but, before I knew it, I had 23 best friends and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my “beans” (shout out, Beantown!).

The two weeks of FYSOP changed my entire outlook on Boston, as a city, and BU, as my home. I had never been so thoroughly challenged by one event, and I had never grown so much in such a short period of time. I found that being a leader in college is entirely different from high school; I learned how to understand the people around me. I learned how to cultivate a space in which first years would feel welcome to grow and explore themselves and our city. I learned how to communicate and interact with new people in new places. I learned how to work alongside a group of people that I had only met a week before but love with every ounce of my soul.  

Taking on this leadership role was indeed nerve-wracking and exhausting but I cannot imagine the person I would be without it.  Not only did I grow as a person but watching my fellow FYStaff and lil’ beans grow brought me endless joy.


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