Leader or Follower?

When I was in 1st Grade the principle called me into her office. She said that I wasn’t in trouble. She just wanted to discuss something with me. I remember she talked to me about my friends and how my friends treated each other on the playground. She talked to me, and finally asked me, “Are you a leader or a follower”? Pause the story.

I am 31 years old. This happened when I was 6 years old. I do not know why but lately I have thought about that meeting with her so many years ago. So today, rather than letting it bother me, I called my Mom to ask her what she remembered. What she told me was not at all how my memory had framed the scene.

I remembered the principle’s conversation with me to be along the lines of ‘don’t let your friends be bossy to you’ or something like that. I thought she was giving me a pep talk to tell me its okay to be myself. I felt that she was trying to encourage me. Overall, I had
processed the message of the conversation to mean that ‘you are a follower, stop that, be a leader.’

My Mom clarified that the principle witnessed me sticking up for some kids that were being taunted by the group. They were younger and different than me and my friends. I knew that it was not kind to tease and I told my friends so. Upon seeing this, the principle called my Mom to ask if she could talk to me about it. My Mom agreed and that’s how the chat happened.

It turns out that the principle was trying to encourage me. She did tell me its okay to be myself. I just got the wrong overall message. The principle was not calling me a follower, she was calling me a leader. She saw that I had a natural ability to see right from wrong and do something to affect change in my peers. My Mom said that the principle complemented me on my self-esteem and how I did not blindly follow the group.

As a child I had an over-arching sense of feeling, “I am different,” ”
less than,” and “not good enough.” This was not a message sent from my family or friends or anyone who cared about me. That message was sent by other kids’ parents and kids in my class. In my private school in HB and even at church, as a little girl, I was acutely aware of socioeconomic status and where my family (and therefore I) ranked. I know now that in my mind I linked the conversation with the principle to that financial thing. Nope, wrong.

All these years later, I realize that I let an old memory follow me and hurt me and I had it wrong.

I am a leader.
I can be proud of who I am.
I am different, and that is good.
I am good enough.
I am blessed, to be a blessing.

There are lessons to be learned from this:

First, if you are carrying something around in your head….call it out. Talk about it. Think about it. Depending on your what your thing is, maybe you need to talk to your mom/dad, spouse, friend, or professional therapist about it. But do it.
Because you are in charge of your thoughts and you shape your own perspective.

Second, if you are a person who makes others feel “less than” or “not good enough” please stop that. Look into yourself to see where that is coming from and fix that. If you don’t lift people up, don’t bother to talk. It’s a really good idea to remember the Golden Rule.

Third:
You are a leader.
You can be proud of who you are.
You are different, and that is good.
You are good enough.
You are blessed, to be a blessing.

3 Replies to “Leader or Follower?”

  1. That’s pretty awesome that a principal would take the time out and touch base with a first grader- usually they are wrapped up with upper elementary kids(or at least in my experience!).

    And, this is a great topic/ reminder for being secure in who God has created you to be. I think I can always use that reminder, great post, Becky!

  2. Thank you Becky, I especially like like your lesson one and I will take it to heart in light of all I’m going through at work. You are a gifted communicator and a blessing to many (me included!). Love U~ Mom

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