The truth is I am sometimes a bit socially awkward; I don’t get sarcasm, I talk like an “old lady,” and sometimes I have to consult Urban Dictionary to understand people my age. In fact, I joined NSCS because I figured it was a great way to learn how to be less socially awkward without risking being around people who will not understand why I am not much of a party girl. As I look back on the National Leadership Summit that was recently held in Houston (June 21-23, 2013), I am reminded of what else makes the Society so special. In the words of Monique Parks, Summit taught me to “leave my comfort zone, and enter a world of chaos and beauty.”
Whereas Summit was anything but chaotic, I realized that there is more to life than the four corners of the classroom; real life means real people with strengths and weaknesses. This means you should, before anything else, put down those barriers you put up in your fear of rejection and leave your comfort zone. No matter how imperfect you are, you are awesome. If you are anything like me, you probably can’t sing, can’t dance, and you find it hard to run without injuring yourself one way or another. Guess what? That’s okay. Remember: we are flawed because we are human, and we learn to love people not in spite of these flaws, but because of these flaws. For me, this meant pretending to know how to dance in front of over 300 people when even my dad claims I inherited everything but my dancing skills (I have none) from him. Stepping out of your comfort zone may not be easy, but the more you do things you normally don’t do, the more you appreciate the things you are capable of doing.
Now that you have left you comfort zone, embrace the real world. Things will not always work out the way you intend for them to, but that’s the exciting part of life. Your role is to be prepared, and fate’s role is to test you on your preparedness. In my case, I somehow ended up in tears after things did not work out as planned during the second day of Summit, and after a few hours I felt a tinge of guilt and regret over my childishness. Then I reminded myself that my mistake could not be undone, but it can be charged to experience. I am technically an adult at 19, but I know that I am still a child. I am still learning, I will never stop, and I never intend to. This is the real world: you will have nothing to compel you to seek progress if things are always smooth sailing.
As scholars, we usually get so caught up in trying to be the best at everything we do that we sometimes forget that we’re human. The National Leadership Summit taught me that being a scholar is more than just about putting your best foot forward. In truth, being a scholar means putting your best foot forward while acknowledging that there still exists the other foot, one that may not be as presentable but has taught you most of what you know. We forget to, in Carl Printer’s words, let our hair down, meet others, and learn how to de-stress (https://talknerdy2me.org/the-art-of-waxing-off#more-9573).
At the end of the day, no matter how accomplished you are, you are not perfect and you never can be. So put yourself out there, have fun, show the world your crazy ideas (just like Steve Loflin did!), and be open to learning from everybody else while you are at it. As I got acquainted with Stephanie Morrill during our first day at Summit, I must have ended up sounding like a woman who will probably never get married and have nine cats to inherit whatever money I could make from becoming an awesome pharmacist in the future. I say this because she told me “You’re crazy…” the moment I started talking about myself. She continued: “You’ll fit right in.”
Join Kendra at ScholarCon 2014 to create your own brand crazy-fun!
Kendra Minoza is currently a sophomore at Houston Community College, taking biology as a pre-pharmacy major. Additionally, she is the NSCS Star Status Coordinator at HCC. Kendra enjoys writing, public speaking, reading, drawing, and charcoal painting. Her love for tea and lack of “normal” hobbies (such as watching TV) has made people believe that she is “an old lady in disguise.”