Envy of Wallflowers

Readers of this blog probably remember that I loved the movie and book Perks of Being a Wallflower last year.  It was the first movie I felt nostalgic for, that I felt captured high school when I was a teen.  Of course, the movie is much darker and tragic than anything I experienced but the look and feel reminded me of those years.

That said, one thing it did not remind me of is the experience of being a wallflower.  What is that like? I really do wonder.

Sometimes it feels like I never get the chance to follow instead of lead.  I am not trying to brag. Believe me sometimes I wish I could take a break and follow but it never seems to work out that way.

When I was in grad school we were required to do a group project in every class which could be such a pain (with UofPhoenix they try to make it so you have basically the same classmates during your entire program).  This definitely helps you weed out the good team partners.  By the last class one person I never got to work with said ‘I never got to be a part of the dream team’.

Anyway, I always ended up leading the groups but one time I was taking my first trip to Hawaii and decided to take a lesser role, let someone else lead.  I still checked in every day (as was required for the curriculum) and tried to follow a project which was due the week after I came home (the courses were only 6 weeks).

It was a statistics class and my toughest subject during my MBA (great time to take a trip right!), but I did my best and hoped for a decent grade.  When I got home I called my various team members and they hadn’t done much on the paper.  Quickly I glanced through the assignment and realized that my teammates had read the assignment incorrectly.  They thought we had to get research already collected from scientific journals and the like. Turns out we had to collect the data ourselves.

Panicked I called my Dad who is the greatest in moments like this.  We put together a survey of JWA employees rating their benefits package and asked them to return it the next day (my Dad and uncle being president and chairman of the board probably helped with that!).  So I got the surveys back, tabulated the data, wrote the paper and had it in on time. Phew!

It was actually kind of funny I was visiting teaching coordinator, along with 2 other callings, at that time and I was terrible at that calling.  I never seemed to be able to get my calls in on time.  As it so happened just as I was tabulating data and super stressed out (I was working super long hours at this time as well) my Relief Society pres called me to ask for the numbers and I started to cry (sometimes leading can cause my anxiety, which isn’t good).  She asked me if she could help and bless her heart she came over and helped read off the survey scores as I entered them into the spreadsheet.  So I guess I was the recipient of leadership in that case.

Maybe it was the wrong lesson to learn but I never took a smaller role in a group again and that statistics class was my only B in grad school.  It wasn’t worth the risk of failure to let someone else lead and nobody challenged me for the spot so I took it and created the dream team!

The reason this was on my mind is I was discussing a dating idea on the Midsingles facebook forum called 8 at 8.  The concept is you network instead of one-on-one date.  Ideally 8 people, 4 men and 4 women, meet and have dinner together.  This way instead of meeting 1 person you have met 7 people who know so many more people, who know more people who might be right for you.  Anyway, I brought up the idea and it got a huge response.

People seemed really interested so I set up a meetup for August 14th.  Now there are 40 people signed up for the group.  21 are signed for the event.  My thought is we will figure out what we want to do for the future, organize smaller groups, but I’m sure the turnout will be smaller than rsvpd.  I’m expecting 8-10.  We are meeting at a local pizzeria just to guard against any weirdos. It should be pretty fun.

I was talking to a friend about this, and she said I was brave. I didn’t feel brave.  Of course, I went on a cruise alone to Mexico so my comfort level with strangers is pretty high. 🙂 When I was on the institute committee I remember people saying similar things when we were planning a barn dance and people were surprised I’d call someone who I knew had a barn.  Seemed obvious to me but the fact that I didn’t know the barn owner made it bold I guess…

Anyway, I was sitting wondering how I ended up as a leader in another group?  Whether its swimfest, book club, my writing group or some church function I always seem to be asked to lead.  I’m not really complaining just puzzling because sometimes it just seems to happen without really meaning too?

One thing I like about swimming is I got to be fellowshipped instead of lead. I am pretty much always the slowest swimmer in the bunch and yet I’ve never felt excluded or anything but encouraged.  Its kind of a nice change.  (yet I still have led with swimfest and helping with the newsletter but that has been fun.)

The other strange thing is I’ve never been a leader in my work, unless you count my days as a teaching assistant back in college (still my favorite job).  Funny hah? You think that would be the place I’d be most likely to lead?  I have led in my own way at work but a clerical job doesn’t exactly scream leadership.  Very strange… (I’ve also never been relief society president, thank goodness! However, I was gospel doctrine teacher for 6 years which is a type of leadership and excelled in front of the classroom)

Anyway, sorry for this long rambling post.  Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about?  Do you feel that way about leadership or are you a natural follower?

dilbert leadership
Just a laugh

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