Throughout adolescence, many teens experience transformative events which impact their road for the future. My moment came when I attended the leadership seminar called HOBY, which stands for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. This organization allows sophomore high school students to learn about their leadership qualities and how to apply them. The seminar strives to be positive and uplifting for anyone who attends, which is HOBY’s mission. Participating in HOBY helped me grow into who I am today, showing me the importance of the journey. This seminar an eye opener that allowed me to see the value in being myself and to help others to see this in themselves.
Prior to the seminar, my normal high school days consisted of witnessing my peers complaining and bullying others, and was a victim to it myself. This bullying created an inhibiting environment that made me hold back my thoughts and emotions. Arriving for the weekend was when it all hit me; HOBY ambassadors from all over the state were screaming carefree cheers, making me question what I had gotten myself into. I was very anxious about joining a strange, new environment. Not feeling comfortable talking to people I did not know and being in fear of being judged, I was timid and did not believe I would have fun that weekend. Having always been taught not to be a quitter, I had no choice but to try to keep an open mind.
After checking in, I wandered outside and joined one of the groups playing a game. I quickly realized I was not alone and everyone was feeling awkward, as each one of us represented a different school from all over the state. The uneasiness quickly dissolved throughout the weekend as we engaged in various activities such as team building exercises, listening to motivational speakers and playing games, all which helped us bond. One of the activities that really started my change was called the Privilege Line. This exercise was geared to help us share our pasts and we were able to see how many of us had been affected by similar situations, such as bullying and divorce. It was truly a wake up call to realize I was not alone. We also completed two service projects, making tied blankets and putting together bookbags for people in need. It was breathtaking stepping back to see how much we had accomplished in two hours. Each activity opened my mind to new ideas and goals for myself to achieve, including not just hiding in the shadows anymore.
The final night we had a seminar reflection on the grass with all ambassadors and staff. Everyone was supportive and respectful of each other’s thoughts and feelings. I felt as if I could spill all of my secrets as I realized I had fun this weekend making lasting friendships, stretching my mind, and growing. All of the HOBY ambassadors had become a unit, agreeing on the necessity to bring this atmosphere back into our communities. Knowing I had met people with the same mindset as me, to create change in the world through positive leadership, I realized I was not alone.
The entire HOBY experience has had a very beneficial, ongoing impact on my life. The positive energy and non judgemental atmosphere were inspiring. With this newfound confidence, there is no more holding back from my true self or allowing others to keep themselves hidden either. This seminar helped me realize I cannot just focus on the end goals, but rather the means to get there. It showed me there are good people in the world who want to make a difference in their communities. Since then, I have become involved with leadership activities through my high school and no longer stay quiet in the corner. I now realize and can say with confidence, as it has become my motto, the journey is more important than the destination.
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