If you would’ve told my freshman year self that I was going to be the president of an organization one day, I would’ve laughed.

In April 2018, I was elected to serve as president of Mason Ambassadors, an organization that provides tours to prospective students, during my junior year (Aug. 2018-May 2019). Fast forward a little over a year later, I’m nearing the end of my term. I thought that I would simply be leading a departmental group throughout the year, but the road proved a lot more difficult than that. The ride hasn’t always been easy as the road had many speed bumps, detours and curves. As I went on this journey, though, I learned about myself as an Ambassador, a leader and an individual. Here are my three biggest takeaways from serving in this position:

  1. It’s okay to do things for yourself. When I was elected, I felt incredible. Feeling wanted, as in people wanted me in this position, was a feeling that couldn’t be beat. I had this notion in my head that I needed to work for them at all costs because I could not let them down in the slightest. During the fall 2018 semester, I helped when needed, assisted whenever possible, and interacted with others as much as I could. It was all good in theory, but that mindset did not work. When Dec. 2018 rolled around, I hit a wall. I fell behind in terms of schoolwork and health – both physical and mental – and I merely felt defeated. I pushed through to the end of the semester, but I knew that I needed to make a change before moving forward. After using winter break as a time for reflection, I realized that I fell victim to neglect. I was so busy caring for, worrying about and helping other people that I forgot about myself. So, I hit the reset button and went into the next semester with a new, more focused mindset. Even though the semester was just as busy and challenging as the last, I felt more content throughout. All I had to do was stop putting myself second. I still showed that I cared and helped when needed, but I didn’t let myself fall down just so I could pick others up.
  2. Organization is key. I considered myself to be an organized person before becoming president. After actually being in the position, though, I realized I was not nearly as organized as I could be. The president role came with many moving parts and added a lot more to my life, so to keep up with it all, I changed my habits. I have never used a journal, a planner, or my computer calendar more than in the past 10 months. I had at least three meetings a week, so if I didn’t write things down, I was not going to remember even the littlest things. By organizing myself within Ambassadors, I became more organized on a larger scale. I color-coded my Ambassador meetings and notes, which led me to color code my Peer Advisor reminders, my work schedule and my different class notes. I now write everything down, even if I think I’ll be able to remember it. Staying organized has kept me focused both in and out of the organization.
  3. Ask for help & use your resources. As president, I was asked questions constantly because people thought I knew the answers. I appreciated their confidence in me as a leader, but I felt bad if I didn’t have the right answer or any answer at all. But, then I looked around and realized the answers were right beside me. I didn’t need to have all of the answers; I just needed to know where to direct the questions. My best resources this year have been the other 130 Ambassadors. Odds are, when I posed a question to the group, someone would have the answer. I turned my “no, I don’t have that answer, sorry” into “no, I don’t have that answer, but I may know someone who does.” I learned the value of asking for help when needed. I became comfortable with using other people, including when I need some assistance for myself. That has made all the difference in how I approach situations and problems that are presented to me.

I’m grateful that I challenged myself to move higher up in the organization because it’s given me more than I ever could have imagined. I have another bullet for a resume, but even more importantly, I have skills that will stick with me beyond the Ambassadors organization. I think my freshman year self would be proud of where I am now. 

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