Settling Into the Uncomfortable

These are the months of goal setting, decision making, and promise breaking. College students are getting settled after a lengthy break from school and are embracing their independent lifestyle, sans parental supervision and pesky rules. Newly elected fraternity/sorority leaders are busy with email inboxes, and, for many, a massive group of humans to manage. The expectations are high, and the slate is blank.

For many councils, officer elections took place back in the fall. From Halloween through the holidays, the newly elected leaders could live in a secure bubble, penetrable only by fear or nerves. We float around campus, recognizing the faces of mentors and superiors who saw our qualifications. The predecessors are still working away, finishing off the semester, while the emerging leaders of campus ease into our adult roles. “Soak it in while you can,” the outgoing
leaders say.

The fast moving, stressful end of the semester quickly transitions into winter break. Thoughts of school and sorority are gone as we blissfully embrace the holiday season. Once the frenzy of consumerism and family have settled, it’s time to revisit the lightly dusted planners and close out of the Netflix window to open Ginsystem. The time to shine is just weeks away and reality is upon us.

These leaders don’t even know the extent of the challenges, conflicts and major events that will occur in our one-year term. We can only prepare for what we’ve been told to expect and assimilate into our new environments. The key is to not brace for impact, but rather, settle into the uncomfortable. As a member of my sorority’s executive board, I had to step outside my comfort zone, my popularity bubble, to be a great leader for my chapter. The times when I rose above mediocrity were the least expected and most rewarding. And many of those challenges have evolved to skill sets that landed me in my new, demanding leadership position as president of the Panhellenic Association.

It’s so incredibly tempting to try to replicate those high achieving folks that came before us. Those leaders who seemingly balanced networking, study time, meeting after meeting, service and business, with recruitment ready manicures and color-coded planners. Their methods seemed to prove fruitful, so why not continue the trend and appease the people? No, we must be our own version of a leader, whether that is decisive and outspoken, or quiet and pensive, a gold or blue true color personality type, or a Meyers Briggs’ ENFJ or ISTP. New leaders might not want to make waves with drastic changes. We want our constituents to approve of us, and have their respect. “Why did they vote for us in the first place?” Because we were the most qualified and trustworthy. Our peers saw that in us in the fall, and now it’s time to prove our capability in the new year.

The idea of being ourselves, showing our vulnerabilities, while being the pillar of strength our members look to in times of crisis, is frightening and extremely uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like a snuggly December night, it feels like a stark, bleak winter morning. We need to stop being our own worst critiques, and confront our insecurities, nestle our strengths, and settle into the uncomfortable. When the winds of stress and conflict pick up, we must fall back on the truth that we were chosen for a reason: our worthiness.

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Shelby Lofton, Sigma Sigma Sigma-Eta Chi

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