An Open Letter to my SEALs

Dear my SEALs,

I know, I just called you “mine.” You may not belong to me, but for the last year, I’ve had the privilege of leading you, hopefully, in the direction of continuing to grow and develop as the wonderful citizen leaders I know you are.

I gotta be honest, this last year was truthfully the hardest year of my life. But it was also the most rewarding, and it was extremely life-changing. I never thought going into this that I would have encountered the tears, the heartache, and the overwhelming amounts of anxiety that I did. BUT I never thought going into this that I would have experienced the happiness, joy, and growth that I have. I’ve learned so much about SEAL, about each one of you SEALs, and about myself because of this process and looking back, I don’t regret a thing.

I’m a different person now than I was when I joined SEAL over two years ago, I’m a different person than I was when I took Chair head-on just less than a dozen months ago. But, I’m a better person. I’ve become confident in myself and my choices, I’ve learned that I’m capable of absolutely everything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to love myself and to be myself, no matter what. I’ve learned to stand up for what I believe in, and to stand up for those who mean the most to me. I’ve learned that it’s okay to take charge, but I’ve also learned that it’s okay to take a step back and let someone else take the reins. I’ve learned that life isn’t always easy, you may not always have a smile on your face, but with SEAL, there’s always going to be a group of people that can put a smile on your face in an instant. I couldn’t do life without you SEALs, and I wouldn’t be who I am without you all.

I came into this position a year ago with a goal in mind: to leave this organization, to leave this campus, better than I found it. To prove and show each and every member of SEAL and each and every student of Longwood University that they can be a leader. Did I meet that goal? Really, I can only hope. But I can tell you that my SEALs gave me more than I ever thought they would. It is because of being Chair that I learned that leadership isn’t your title, it’s your actions. It’s those small, brave moments where you take a step out of your comfort zone in order to help someone else grow that you grow as well. It is leading truly by example, leading with the idea that you will help someone else discover their own potential. I 100% believe that every single person can be a leader, that there is not one type of leader. One of my favorite parts of SEAL is that as an organization of 26 college students, we are 26 different kinds of leaders. We all have different aspirations, different personalities, different ideals, but together: we make one heck of a team.

I’m the first one to admit that I’m not perfect. There may have been times I was a terrible Chair, and there may have been times that you probably thought I was crazy (either good crazy or bad crazy). There may have been moments where you didn’t think I could do this job, and there may have been moments that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But because of my mistakes, because of my absolute lack of knowledge a year ago, I grew a lot and I learned a lot, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

So, my SEALs, thank you. Thank you for putting up with me in the front of the Amelia Room for a year. Thank you for not having my head when I have a panic attack when someone’s name is spelled wrong on their Mountain Lake nametag. Thank you for standing on a picnic table and getting dozens of people’s attention at NSLP for me because I had no voice. Thank you for putting up with 3 AM emails, and meeting agendas that may or may not have followed my minute-by-minute schedule. Thank you for putting up with either my a) lack of knowledge on a subject, or b) my overzealousness about a topic. Thank you for the dozens of meetings, thank you for letting me cry dozens of tears, and thank you for always offering to take something off my plate.

Dear my SEALs, thank you. You will never know how much this last year meant to me, and you will never know my true love and passion for you and for us as an organization.

Thanks for putting up with me for the last 364 days.

Hannah, they are all yours.

Forever fam,
Em

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