In my last year of high school, I have faced a villain. To this day I cannot tell if I should name it as self-doubt, high school culture, or mean girls, but I have had to pull out my big guns way more often this year than any year before. (For clarification, the big guns are most likely referring to bath bombs or Taylor Swift lyrics. Whatever harnesses more power in my calcium-deficient bones.)
I am editor-in-chief of my school's yearbook, and I have grown into the position like a puppy grows into its paws. I was born into this field of work with lightning in my feet (told you, Taylor Swift lyrics), but I had to learn how to bottle it up into usable energy. My hyperactivity, anxiety, and scatterbrain are beautiful tools that I originally just used to brainstorm and feel embarrassed about, but now they clean up the wreckage. They pump me up. They sing my praises and say, "let's do it" on a Monday morning. They are the best leaders in most of my relationships and life projects.
Learning to take advantage of my strengths took a long time, though. I jumped headfirst into an industry that is all about headfirst jumping but doesn't give a map after you've started floating. It's all up to me to learn, and part of studying leadership means encountering a very firm fear of failure.
In my six months of being editor-in-chief (Holy crap. Six months. I need a cake), I have found it exhausting to maintain a positive outlook. I have begun to feel like the bad guy. I have to ask things of people who just want to go home and eat pizza rolls. I have to demand better photo quality, better grammar, and a determined attitude if I want to make my best work possible.
Tina Fey says, “In most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” In my case, though, I didn't hire my talented people. I don't have the choice to get out of their way, because in a sense, they were the ones who hired me. They, and my awesome adviser, chose me to be Bossypants. And that is hard and scary!!!!! No one told me it would be hard and scary!!!!!!
People disagree with me, laugh at me, give me dirty looks, think my font choices look like a drunk tattoo script, get pissed off at my demands, ask me to do more work for them, and even have the audacity to not invite me into their lives like I've invited them into mine. It might as well be me disagreeing and laughing at myself, as these things hurt me in a way so personally I begin to doubt myself even more.
I could take that anger and disrespect and those normal human situations and turn them into bitter, vengeful behaviors. I could give up on my publication. I could forget the other lovely people who work hard, care as much as I do, and inspire me every day. I could be the bad guy. And sometimes I feel like the bad guy. I feel like the one who sucks and the one who deserves the disagreements and the quiet, passive-aggressive drama high school is so famous for.
But I'm not about that life. I have to do more meditations, swim an extra lap to get my frustrations out, and skip lunch to execute my work in a beautiful and beneficial way, but I do it. I am a woman in a position of power, and if I want to continue down that road in my career, I'm gonna need to learn how to find my center of calm, do a flawless freestyle stroke, and brown-bag it. People don't care how stressed you are when you're in charge. People just want you to get your work done.
And the cool thing is, I'm not getting my work done for them. I'm getting my work done for the good guys, the loving and grateful guys (who are all actually really cool teenage girls), the powerful guys with big hearts and curious heads. I'm listening to Deepak Chopra every night to feel better for me. I'm not building up my armor to ignore the gossip and inner demons and the negative waves of being 18. I'm building up my armor to work smarter, live happier, and maintain the cool, cosmopolitan exterior I am allowed to see in myself.
I don't have to be bad to be good. I don't have to see myself in a negative light to work harder. I simply exist as a good character, a strong character, and an interesting character. If people see me in an unfavorable way, I am allowed to show them that I do not choose to see weakness in myself. I am proud of being bossy. I am proud of getting my work done. I am proud of being the bad guy sometimes, and most importantly, I am proud of myself.
As Tina Fey says, "Do your thing and don't care if they like it."
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