Last Friday, I was sweating profusely in the peak of Hamilton summer during the Activities Fair, manning the table of my club sport of choice. Between yells at first-years to join the team, I thought about how not long ago I was in their shoes, frantically signing up for every club while trying to find my niche at Colgate. Now that I’m a big and bad senior, I find myself at the end of the journey for all of these paths I set myself on, now at the top of the hierarchy. At this end of the road bears the responsibility of being a leader, someone with responsibility to do right by their peers. Everything I do or say has meaning. Just yesterday I thoughtlessly group messaged and am now bearing the consequences that come with it.
It’s harrowingly beautiful that this will be the last year I will be looked up to before diving back into my cocoon to start my metamorphosis in the real world. Before I drive my future employers insane with questions and learn from my workmates, I have one more opportunity to educate someone else. This is not to say I won’t be teaching my future colleagues anything in the next few years, but the value of what I say to those around me has so much importance these days. It’s unnerving sometimes to make executive decisions, and also tough to think that maybe your peers don’t feel your leadership is good enough. My confidence sometimes wanes when it comes time to make the right decision, but I do know that my experiences at Colgate will be strong motivators. Regardless, I am closer to my best self now than I was as a first-year. Colgate in some way has impacted who I am today and I feel confident that that impact is evident when I make those decisions.
Transitioning to the other side of the activities fair table can be daunting, but that transition didn’t happen on its own. One of the big topics we talk about in my Psychology of Leadership class is the notion of leaders understanding the goals of their followers. Just by having the empathy gained from once being an underclassman at Colgate I’ve established a connection to them, and in striving to reach where I am now, they’ll appreciate that. We know the ins and outs of this university: which professors to take, which downtown spot is tops and how not to act on Yik Yak. As a senior I think I trivialize a lot of that knowledge that is quite valuable to a lot of new students who benefit from it. Today’s version of me is the best version of me, and there’s importance in that. Former Dean of First-Year Students Beverly Low often gave the mantra to her Link Staff, “Know who you are and what you represent.” In times of self-doubt, this reminds me that I’m a pretty capable person. There’s a lot I don’t know, and I have learned and will continue to learn from those peers I lead, but at the end of this metaphorical road, I feel worthy helping others get to the end of their road.