Tough Conversations

It’s okay to feel like a reluctant leader if you remember that the word ‘reluctant’ is an adjective and is based on a temporary emotion, while the word ‘leader’ is a noun and is the actual role you fill.

This is something my dad told me last night as I was struggling to find a solution to a problem I’ve been facing. I have been inadvertently given the role of a mediator within my group of friends. As I’ve been connected to many social groups and don’t particularly assign myself a specific group of friends, I am often considered a neutral party when there are disagreements, conflicts, and just straight up teen drama. (I know; high school drama, what a shocker). Yesterday I found myself putting on my name tag and hat to fill the role once more among my friends, except this time, I was the problem and the solution.

As I was contemplating how I would approach this minor hitch in my relationship with a friend, I was voicing my thoughts and their consequences to my dad, who I consider to be a pretty wise man most of the time. He reads a lot and uses big words, so I figured he might be able to help. He said, “Celia, one of my friends told me one time it’s okay to feel like a reluctant leader if you remember that the word ‘reluctant’ is an adjective and is based on a temporary emotion, while the word ‘leader’ is a noun and is the actual role you fill. Right now you have to embrace your role as a leader and not focus on your reluctancy. Your compassion and understanding of the consequences gives more meaning to your words, but in the end, you have to be a leader and do what’s right.” It was just another moment when I silently acknowledged that my dad was, once again, right.

I don’t really want to elaborate on what the situation was because I don’t want my writing to be oriented around the gossip girl newsfeed, but let’s just say, as I was faced with the possibility of ruining a friendship and upsetting a girl I’ve known throughout high school, I was a bit nervous to have a tough talk with someone I consider to be one of my closest friends. I love her. I respect her. As the words fell from my mouth, I could feel my hands shaking and the knot in my stomach twisting as I was mentally taking account of my word choice and how I sounded. I didn’t want to sound rude or condescending or even kinda frustrated, because I wasn’t. I wanted her to see how much I cared about her reaction to my honesty, but I also had to suck it up and say what needed to be said in order to protect her. I had to be a caring friend and a leader, two titles that sometimes don’t mix well, and this was one of those times.

Now, as I’m still working to alleviate some of the emotional shrapnel from this discussion, I have to view these rough moments as temporary emotion, and embrace that my role as a leader and as a caring friend are the true titles for which I should always wear the hat and the badge. Today has taught me that 1) tough conversations are much more difficult than I imagined. They are messy and could cause a lot of damage, but in the end, they are necessary. 2) I hope one day I will be as wise as my father is. He deserves his own badge. 3) Honest friends might not always make us feel warm and fuzzy, but they are irreplaceable and should be valued more than they often are.

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