When I was in elementary school my friends turned on a movie that I knew I shouldn't be watching. I look back now and laugh, it was some dumb Stephen King movie, but back then I knew it didn't make me feel good to watch it. So I told my friends that I was going to have my mom come and pick me up from the sleep over because I didn't want to watch the movie, and that was that. However, after I said something, two of the other girls said something too. It was like a huge sigh of relief that they weren't the only ones feeling that way, but in fact, the majority of us were. We ended up watching a different movie and everything was all flowers and butterflies.
In high school there was a boy who was extremely over weight and really shy. He didn't have a lot of friends, but every time I passed him or saw him I would say hi and yell his name. He'd smile, and I didn't think anything of it. I didn't care if I was with my friends or not, I thought he was pretty cool. One time his mom saw mine at a school activity and she told her how much it meant to her son that I always said hi to him. I had learned my lesson in 6th grade when a bunch of my friends were in earshot of a girl and were loudly making fun of her, and I didn't speak up to say anything. I sat there in silence and embarrassment that I was a coward because I didn't want to be the next one they picked on. But it taught me that it always feels better to be the one who is nice, than the one who sits and says nothing at all.
Last week while we were in Mexico I found out that our condos have water zumba now. Oh. My. Gosh. I felt like I had just won the lottery. I ran down there the morning of zumba all geared and ready to go. The problem was, I was the only one there. Well, me and the pro latin zumba teacher. Shoot. I'm going to look like the biggest doofus on the face of the planet! No white girl can look cool next to this lady! Let alone a white girl with no zumba talent! Other people would walk by, but were too shy to join. So I jumped in the pool by myself and got over the fact that I was the only one. As time went on, and people saw how much fun we were having, they started to join us. The more people that came, the more comfortable people felt doing aqua zumba. They didn't have to be embarrassed because no one could possibly look as crazy as the guera in the front.
But that's how things go. Sometimes you have to take the potential brunt of embarrassment and feelings of discomfort in order to be a leader. Sometimes, like in the stories above, being a leader can be done in the most simplest of ways. Other times, it's more difficult. Like making a social change, or being at the forefront of any kind of change for that matter. But the world needs leaders, so that more people will gain courage when they see you stepping onto the battle field. All it takes is one person to inspire an entire population of people. But it has to start somewhere.
So let it start with you.
Here's my proof that this story is no lie: