YEAR IN REVIEW | ADAPTIVE LEADERSHIP

It can’t be true… I’m already done with my first year of college??

Remember my very first blog I said that “I was beyond nervous to start this new adventure but I felt somewhat ready and excited.“? I can remember my first week here at CMU like it was yesterday. Never knowing what to expect but fulling emerging myself in the campus environment anyways. I signed up for something new every week because I wanted to experience everything I could; going places, seeing things, meeting people. When I would visit home people asked me why I was always in a different city every weekend. I was making the most of my freshman year!

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” – Unknown
It wasn’t easy for me getting to CMU. There was a moment in my life when I didn’t know if I was going to college at all, and it scared me. Even when I had accomplished my goal of becoming a Leader Advancement Scholar and was almost certain I could go to CMU, there were several difficult challenges that I had to face to get to where I am today. The lack of support and the fear of not knowing was so discouraging I almost gave up my dream of becoming a Chippewa.

BUT, this blog isn’t about sad moments. The good news is that I’m right where I need to be and that’s something worth celebrating! Because of the difficult road I made sure to make the most out of every day by embracing new opportunities and choosing an optimistic outlook on every experience. With this perspective and goal I’ve had one of the craziest, best years of my life! As I pack up my life and move back to Battle Creek I know that I will be leaving the same way as I came; fully knowing CMU where I am meant to be.

This year has been a year of change. It’s a particularly weird and maybe uncomfortable period in most people’s lives when transitioning from high school living at home to college in a brand new city. It’s allowed me to become more independent (although my parents would beg to differ) and confident as an adult. I feel like I’m actually understanding this whole grown-up thing now!

Change excites me. It is not something that I fear but instead welcome, because without change I am not able to grow. Like I mentioned in my first blog, growth happens outside the comfort zone. That zone is something I’ve lived within my entire life up until college. I’ve had to change the way I think, behave, and react and a lot of that was due to me pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I decided to put myself out there and be the first one to introduce myself. I showed up at events by myself and embraced the awkwardness of not knowing a single person in the room. I tried things I’ve never experienced before. All of this was so that I could grow as an individual and experience college to its fullest potential, I couldn’t have done it without first changing my mindset of staying within my zone.

College is a challenge, a task, and a wonderful blessing all in one. In order to successfully face the challenge, complete the task, and receive the blessing I had to adapt. This was Adaptive Leadership brought to life. This leadership theory focuses on the process of bettering and improving one’s self or one’s environment through adaptation. I couldn’t have jumped from where I was at the beginning of the year to where I wanted to be. It took many steps, critical thinking, and decision making. It took me doing things I normally wouldn’t do and learning how to address certain issues that I’ve never even thought about. For example, I decided to not bring a car on campus this year and because of that I had to find a way to get myself where I needed to go. For most days I only need to go to class and the dining hall, but it became very difficult when I had to collect supplies for an event or when I wanted to attend an event off campus and didn’t have my own means of transportation. Not having easy access to wherever I wanted to go was a huge change for me and it even felt like I took a step back from an adult to a 9th grade high school student. I had to realize that there are many mature adults who don’t own a car and still find means of transportation just fine, I just had to adapt to my environment and change the way I typically do things.

Another huge change I made this year was the decision to be unemployed. This was the most difficult change to adapt to. I’ve been working and paying for my own things since I was 16. I came to CMU with a part-time job as a barista. People cautioned me to “see how things goes” before I commit to a job, but for me, having a steady source of income was important. Eventually I ended up leaving my job and deciding to become an unemployed student. It was not easy. This required me to take a LOT of time to set my priorities straight and after hours of thinking I decided that my education is my top priority. Education to me isn’t just going to classes and receiving credit, it’s the learning experiences that happen outside of the classroom as well. In my field of study, employers value experience over a degree. Some people might ask, “Then why are you paying to go to college to earn a degree?” Just today, as I was walking through campus I saw a brick that said “Use college for more than a degree.” This is the reason why I decided to quit my part-time, minimum wage job. I wanted to use college not only to attend classes, learn about Event Management, and earn a degree but to gain valuable experience and learn outside the classroom setting as well. I had to give up the time (and little money) spent at a part time job to invest myself further at CMU. With the extra time I applied and volunteered for every planning committee and position I could and involved myself in several organizations. I was extremely busy doing something every weekend and attending meetings every day, but I was thoroughly enjoying it. I loved being busy with things that matter rather than being busy making someone’s latte. On the other hand, I didn’t love having little money in my bank account. I wasn’t able to go out with friends or shop for new clothes, I could barely afford Christmas presents for my parents. I don’t say this to pity myself but rather explain the sacrifice and the change I had to make in order to reach my goal and complete the task.

Throughout this changing period of my life, the most important thing to keep in mind is to not change my true self. My environments may change, the people around me may change, even my weight may change (thank you freshman 15), but I do not want to change the Olivia I have always been. My values, beliefs, and morals remain the same as they continue to lead me towards my life’s purpose. Acquiring the skill of adaptation has not been easy but it sure has been worth it. This is just the beginning of great change and while I’m excited to enjoy the summer of 2017, I am eager to see what other kinds of change CMU will throw at me next year!

And always, Fire Up Chips!!!

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