To date my understanding of my leadership has changed through this fellowship because I've had time to take a deep inventory of the way I show up for myself and for my work. I have been a grassroots leader, humbly sharing the responsibility of guiding the girls I serve with other leading ladies and gentlemen in my community. For many years not having a college degree and simply leading from what I know works internally, had me playing small. In my mind, I had been sharing this notion that together we are stronger and wiser and way more capable of creating changed narratives for my organization than I could ever do it alone. What this fellowship has helped me own is that I am the visionary and that my vision is one that I have to take full responsibility for and truly lead everyone to the goals created. I own my leadership role now and am having more fun in it knowing that I am still involving my team in major decisions. In coming from a big family where I am one of the oldest, I've always been taught the 'village' way of thinking. There is no hierarchy, the elders together make up the wisdom. In the western culture we live there is always a definite leader. Through this Fellowship I have had the honor of really taking time to think about 1) do I want to stick with what I know works for my community or 2) follow the way of a culture foreign to my own when it comes to taking care of our community. I'm still on this path finding my way, but I am now heading in the direction of what works for my community regardless of main stream thinking. As i am settling into my truth, I am more confident in making the time to create the standards, values, practices and policies that reflect my decision and that will truly change the lives and narratives of the girls we serve.
Focusing on my own leadership has changed how I lead my work through me giving space and time for my team to slow down and reassess their self-care regime. I am leading our team to decide how we make self-care the foundation of our organization. During this time my board and leadership team has taken the time to incorporate self-care into all of our meetings and as we onboard new team members. We have the girls we serve creating self-care plans as a part of their on-boarding and all new volunteers are asked to create and/or share their self-care plans as they come onto the team. We are finding that through this change, we are all becoming more mindful of how we are treating ourselves, each other and our constituents through this process. We see each other in different ways and are caring for one another on different levels than before. This is setting a phenomenal stage for us to usher in a new narrative for the girls we serve. This is strong role-modeling in a cultural way while guiding them be preventative around their emotional hygiene and fitness as young people.
I now view the role of self-care in sustaining my ability to lead as vital. If it weren't for this opportunity, I would still be on the hamster wheel, taking care of everyone but myself. I'm sure I would have burned out due to emotional fatigue and gave up on my vision to create a resource center that caters to the needs of Black girls. I am beyond amazed at my growth, confidence, wisdom attainment and networks. I understand in a deeper manner why culturally we have been able to love in huge ways despite living in this White Supremacy system. I am moving different as I encounter the same type of conversations that would have had me almost going to jail! Instead I now have way more empathy and tools for myself and others as we all grapple to find our true selves in this society. In learning that everyone is affected by this system, it has made me a better woman with more compassion and strength to recognize, articulate and be in community with everyone as we move towards the resource center goal. If it weren't for me getting to articulate my truths and my bandwidth, I would not be where I am emotionally. I am valuing and in love with the leader I am becoming!