When people hear the word leader, they often think about someone extroverted and confident; but if you ask me, leadership, and being a leader in general, doesn’t start or end at “leading” people and being social- it’s composed of constant and consistent self-growth and character development.
My name is Tabia Sobahan; I’m a high school senior, and I’m passionate about youth leadership and character education. I’ve always been a social person: I love talking, hanging out, and spending time with people- but that doesn’t necessarily make me a leader. I wouldn’t define myself as someone who’s consistently been a “good person”- someone who’s always been kind, considerate, optimistic, etc.
However, my “transformation” happened during the summer before grade 7. Just like many other students, I dealt with my fair share of problems related to family, bullying and mental health, and because I didn’t deal with them in a healthy way, it made me a bitter person. I hated the world and the people around me. I didn’t see any meaning or purpose in my life- I felt absolutely empty and alone. My grades started to drop, I was losing sleep, I barely ate, and I stopped interacting with friends and family the way that I used to- it was the lowest point in my life.
One day, I decided to get myself together. I can’t really explain to you why I wanted to change all of a sudden, but what I can say is that I came to the realization that having a better life starts with me.
So, that’s where it began: I sought help for my problems, opened up to my close family/friends, and focused on the things that I could control rather than the things that I couldn’t: my character and attitude. I didn’t want to be bitter, I wanted to find inner peace. I tried being more open, kind, patient, understanding and compassionate- I tried to improve my character and grow as a person. It was hard, of course: a lot of people gave me a hard time and ridiculed me when they realized that I was trying to change and become better. However, in the end, it was worth it. I was now more happy and satisfied and was starting to be recognized as a leader.
In grade 8, I was president of the student council and won the Ontario Principle’s Council Award (OPC) for Leadership. Since grade 9, I’ve been an active youth leader for the Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS), and currently, I am a group in-charge (GI) for Al Huda Institute and a Character Education Leader in my high school.
The truth is, the road to leadership doesn’t start with being social and extroverted- it begins with your development and growth as a person, it begins with your character. You don’t have to be in a dark place to want to change, you just have to be committed to improving. When you grow internally and focus on being a better version of yourself, you naturally start to exhibit leadership, and you also begin to find a sense of inner peace.
If I didn’t focus and continue to focus on my character, then I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am today. If you want to create positive change, then invest in creating a positive change within yourself first. If you’re going to be a leader, even if it’s on a small scale, try starting with improving on who you are as a person. We, including myself, will always have something we can improve on- so, let’s be better together!
Like I mentioned before, I love talking and hanging out with people- if you want to chat or reach out, you can find me on Instagram: @tabia.sobahan_