The overall fear of being a leader and not a follower is instilled in students from a young age. College and high school are usually when students actually find out who they want to be in life.

A leader is a person who leads and commands a group, organization or country. A follower is a person who is an adherent or devotee of a particular person, cause or activity according to dictionary.com.

“It is time to give permission to our fresh-eyed, college-bound youth to find the courage to return to authenticity, whether it be to lead or to follow,” according to an article in the New York Times.

In college and high school, there are countless opportunities for students to start finding themselves and find out what they enjoy such as taking general education classes, joining clubs or teams and meeting new people. A study from livescience.com showed that,to a certain extent, there are natural born leaders and followers. Students may find themselves in high school and may continue to grow once they reach college.

“I found myself more in college, that is where I actually branched out and met a bunch of people. I realized the things that I liked and the things that I didn’t like,” Kristal Persaud, a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in Spanish and journalism, said.

Doing leadership and follower roles in jobs in college and high school sets a student up for which path they choose to take.

“I pretty much applied for every leadership position in high school. I knew what I wanted to be,” Takeshi Lilly, a freshman global supply management, entrepreneurship and international business triple major at PSUC, said. “In high school, I started doing a lot of internships. I started working at Wall Street in 11th grade, and I worked at Bank of America in 12th grade.”

Kids are usually pushed in the direction of becoming a leader instead of a follower by starting with being chosen to be line leaders and being encouraged to raise their hand first in class.

It is shown to kids that followers do their job and that is the extent of what they do. It is also seen that “followers”are stagnant. Parents are one of the main influencers for children.

Parents can overtly and covertly teach their children not to be followers.

“Genetically conferred traits such as outgoingness, intelligence, a will to dominance and physical attractiveness do correlate with those who assume leadership positions,” according to livescience.com.

“My dad always told me to be a leader,” Persaud said. “He told me that if you always follow people you will never know who you are. To do your own thing and being successful will be a lonely road.”

The word “follower” is depicted with a negative connotation. Being a follower does not make you an unambitious person. In fact, the truth is that most people are in followership roles regularly, such as in families, social circles, religions or other settings, according to Fast Company, the world’s leading progressive business media brand.

“Significant shifts in technology and culture have changed that dynamic, giving followers more power. And there’s a lot a person can learn about being a good leader by learning to be a good follower,” according to the same Fast Company article.

Even if a person is given a leadership position, they can still be seen as a follower, according entrepreneurship.com.

It is all right if everything is not figured out. There is still time for growth. Being a “follower” is not necessarily bad because in some ways, people are all followers pushing to get to our leadership role. All journeys are different. It is okay not to fit in either category.

“I’m still finding myself out now,” Natasha Clarke, a PSUC freshman majoring in marketing and mathematics, said. “ I would say that I started realizing who I was in high school after 10th grade, and now I’m just building on it, trying new things, see what works for me and what doesn’t.”

Email Breyana Anderson at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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