My struggle is to find the right words to say. I want to write things that are beautiful and profound that will leave people thinking but I cannot come up with the right words. Maybe this will be different. I mean, I am a writer but with that comes a most dreaded illness: writers block and speaking. I struggle with these two aspects of my life and they have shaped me into the leader I am today.
I never was a good speaker. I recall a time when I could not speak at all. I was three when I was diagnosed as a phasic. This meant that I was incapable of normal speech and communication with words and that meant I was mute. I could not even ask for water when I was thirsty, food when I was hungry, and I could not even tell my mother I loved her. My voice was taken from me before I could use it.
But obviously, my voice is fine now. And yet, I still find myself stuck with oral communication. I mumble. I stutter. I slur my words. And I think so quickly my mouth jumbles up my words into a big mass of letters and I spit it out. It frustrates me that I have so many thoughts racing through my mind and my mouth is so ill programmed to process them all. My spoken voice therefore is not my strongest attribute.
I recall seminars that we had in Mister Gibbs class and discussion in Miss Im’s class. I enjoy the heat of points racing out of everyone’s mouths and I love to just to soak everything in. In all honesty, they are one of my favorite parts of Magnet. But, although many would say otherwise, I rarely participate. Why? I just did not know how to articulate my voice into way that would make sense. Some would call me a thinker. Others outspoken. I don’t know where these people get their information from but it sure isn’t from me because I don’t even know.
And then, during 11th grade, in Miss Im’s class, all of that changed. I mean, I was no speech giver and I still am not. But I discovered my outlet of expression, my voice, in writing. For the first time, I could place my thoughts in order, create images that people would understand, and actually have people understand my thoughts.
I then discovered that not only did writing bring to me my source of expression but it brought me closer to finding who I am. Discovering my talent, my gift, acted as the spark to let my inner sanctum bloom. I could be myself in my words written across a page and have people–whether it be Ms. Im, my best friend, or you–understand me and get inside my messy head. That, to me, is liberating.
But, like every good thing, there is a always that one snag that tries to bring you down. As a writer, its writers block. I spend hours upon hours pounding away at the keyboard, making my thumbs throb only to scrape every last word that I have written.
That’s just life. No one is capable of being the best version of themselves on the first try and no one is able to say I am this or that overnight. It took me 11 years of school to discover my own gift which had literally in front of me on a daily basis. Whether on facebook or in a essay it was always there.
I assure you, your place in this world is hidden in you, in your inner sanctum, waiting to bloom and to flourish. It takes time. Lots of it, trust me. Just like a sapling doesn’t grow into a beautiful tree overnight, you will not find who you are in one try. I wanted my gifts break right out of me and that didn’t work. I just ended up frustrated to tears. I tried to write the story of my life while writers block had its grip on me.
You see, life is a river and we all flow in it. We can’t force the river forward and we can’t force in reverse. We don’t know where we are going, who we will be, or what we will become so we have to let life happen, let it unfold before us and let it take us to each of our individual destinations.
We all have those nights where we just think to ourselves, ‘Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “What are I am here to do?” And then we think being of tall, a jock, a student, a son, or nerd–you name it!
But then, before we even get halfway down this list, we all hit internal writer’s block. Our voices just stop. And let me assure you, this perfectly, perfectly okay. No one in their right mind can tell who they are in just one try. It’s just not possible.
Even after our individual lives have hit our unique writer’s block, we must be willing to ponder, let our souls free to study, understand, and work through obstacles. It is then that we enter new phases in life and we discover our larger purpose.
Being able to tackle ourselves, stretch our limitations, take on new challenges and deliberately place ourselves at the forefront of discovery are just a few ways to let your inner leader free. Don’t place yourself in comfort.
Instead, I encourage you to struggle with yourselves. Let your voices shine-whether in art, math, writing, or sports. I still grapple with myself and I choose to enter the next phase of my life with an open mind and open heart.
This is what leadership is to me: being able to struggle and grow in any circumstance, not letting anything–not even our internal limitations block us from discovering our place in the world. Leaders are able learn with every new experience, see people with patience and love, and say that just like I am on this river, they are also and being able to say united we stand. Having patience, an open mind, courage and strength are all of what makes a leader great and this is where we will learn how to conquer and break down our internal limitations.
I trust that in myself I will find this man that is willing to stand up and take my place in the world. I have spent hours writing essays, hours reading books, and hours doing work just to get to this point in time. I have given up my teenage life just to be able to continue on to the my next one. And I still cannot find who I am on a larger scale after so much time and energy, and this is why I stand before you–today.
I want you to know that no matter how much you struggle to find yourselves, no matter how much you struggle to find your gifts and no matter how much you struggle to take hold of your individual leadership, you are going to find your place. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, or next year, or in four years, but rest assured, inspiration will come to shine upon you, to motivate you and to guide you.
Trust in the flow and know that you will get there, you will. You will.