Like many other youth, when I was 15, I felt lost and had no idea about my future. I’d listen to the other girls in my school share what they want to be after graduating and explain in detail how they will achieve their goal, and I usually just nodded with a smile. I hated questions about my future were directed towards me; I would usually lie, saying something like “I want to be a vet or a gynecologist,” even though I actually hated biology. But I knew that I wanted to figure this out and have a sense of responsibility. So, when YWCA Trinidad & Tobago encouraged students in my school to join, I decided to go.
That choice in June of 2015 turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Because of the YWCA Trinidad & Tobago, I have been able to meet great people, learn new things about myself, and have amazing opportunities. I met my first mentor through this process, and she helped me and some other interested students revamp the group.
When she suggested that I take on the role of the Chairperson, I was terrified. I’m shy and awkward, I stutter when I’m nervous, and I didn’t believe in myself. My mentor didn’t push me but asked me to think about it. To my surprise, when election day came, my friends and fellow members of the group voted me to be the new Chairperson. This was the first role I ever had as a leader. I was still very nervous about it, but also grateful for the opportunity. It helped build my confidence.
I decided that I wanted to keep exploring, so I joined another youth group called the Youth Government of Trinidad and Tobago. I knew almost no one and wasn’t as enthusiastic about the experience, until one day I saw that they had open positions, one of which was for assistant secretary.
Again, as a very shy and introverted person, I went ahead and applied but told myself I would never be picked for this role. Boom—I was selected for the position. I was pleasantly surprised and felt affirmed. Even though I hadn’t thought of myself as a leader per se, I was chosen to serve in an executive position.
My time with these two groups really established a foundation for myself which allows me to stand tall with confidence today. Of course there are days when I feel useless but my experiences and the opportunities that I have been gifted with remind me that I can do anything that I want to do with the help of a strong support system. With this mentality in mind, I am proud to have been an intern at the World YWCA —again, something that my mentor at the YWCATT encouraged me to apply to.
I know now that I want to be a leader for the youth in my country, and I know that I can’t be a leader if I don’t believe in myself. I never expected myself to be a cohort member, a chairperson, or a secretary for such influential youth groups, but here I am—paving my way, brick by brick, tile by tile.
My advice for the many young ladies who are familiar with what I felt, take the smallest steps to get out of your comfort zone. Acknowledge then brush off your anxiety because many great things will come to you
“Everyone shines, given the right lighting.”