The importance of taking charge


Ale Benjamin, Staff Writer

I believe that at some point in every life, there comes a moment that permanently alters the path you’re on. It’s not something you can predict, prepare for or anticipate in advance. But once it happens and lies suspended irrevocably in the air – there’s no mistaking it.


For me, this moment consisted of ten endlessly important words.


Fall, senior year. A time many recall with about as much fondness as they would their last cavity filling or visit to the DMV. But despite its horror, we could all stand to recognize the lessons we learned from the process. As they say, happiness can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.


Senior year was a time that if nothing else prodded us to think. We had to think about the “big questions” proposed by sickeningly optimistic adults or the all-but-cackling common app. Not just “where do you want to go to school?” but the wholly more frightening “what are you going to major in?” or, worst of all, “what do you want to do with your life?”


The problem is, although we heard plenty of “what” there was never a whole lot of “why” to go with it.  In fact, there was such little prompt of reasoning behind these heart-attack inducing inquiries that the first time I did hear one I was stuck for an answer


Why do you like what you do? Why do you like being a managing editor?


When a friend’s mom asked me this, I chewed my lip raw. I knew my usual answers, my passions, prides, but suddenly, her pressing tone suggested something more. Finally, with a sheepish half smile I confessed, “well, I don’t know how this will sound, but I really like to be in charge.”


She locked eyes with me immediately and intently. “Hey. Listen. Don’t ever be sorry for wanting to be in charge.”


And there it was.


The profoundness of the moment was soon replaced by complete awe at my own stupidity. I had been oblivious to a phrase which dangling limp in front of me was such an obvious aphorism.


My simplicity haunted me for days, until I at last decided I hadn’t been oblivious at all. For much of my life, I had indeed indirectly been told to be sorry for wanting to be in charge.


From day one, the Kindergartner who directed the playground activity was bossy, the unfortunate soul who took it upon himself to lead an otherwise failing group project was a suck-up or an overachiever. Being adamant about what you wanted made you bitchy, or bossy again, like we were once again back in Kindergarten.


Looking back, I wished someone had smacked me with those stupidly beautiful words years ago. This time in our lives – high school, college, growing up, is about one thing and one thing only – taking charge of your own path. Doesn’t matter if you’re content as the wallflower, the worker bee or the leader of the pack – no one will ever be in charge of how you live and what you do but you.


And believe me, that’s the last thing you want to be sorry for.