EDITOR’S COLUMN: ‘Leadership is lonely’

I’ve felt rather isolated lately, and I’m sure it’s not an uncommon feeling among students right now. With online classes and the seasons changing, the feeling of isolation can easily creep into your daily life.  

I work two jobs and have a full load of classes, and I’m not unique in that fact. So many students work one or more jobs to pay the bills and to be able to afford tuition. It’s an uphill grind sometimes, but it’s necessary for many.  

Editor in Chief is by far my favorite job I’ve had, but it’s also the hardest. Juggling my responsibilities at the Torch with my classes is often more of me dropping the ball on my homework. It’s hard to prioritize my classes when doing my job at the Torch feels like the most important thing in my life right now. 

This job has already helped me grow immensely in learning to manage a staff, delegate tasks and lead our team in our campus coverage. I wouldn’t trade this job for the world right now, but in striving to do this job to the best of my ability, I find myself feeling isolated much of the time. 

My older brother, who hears all about my work and how stressful it can be, constantly reminds me of a phrase. 

“If it was easy, everyone would do it.” 

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe even scoffed at it. It comes off a little cliché, a little cheesy. But it’s true. It’s so simple, yet when I think about it, it helps me believe in what I’m doing a little more. 

I spent the last weekend working in the morning and then going home to do homework and work on internship applications. My roommates and friends were off having fun, which is totally within their right and I’m not saying this to cast judgement. It just hit me, as I sat alone in my living room writing application essays Friday and Saturday night: the path to being great and striving to be the best you can be is often a lonely one. 

Again, this is not me saying that my friends are not striving to be great at what they do, or that they don’t want to be the best they can be. We simply have different priorities at this moment in time.  

I’m going to reference Kobe Bryant here because for one, he was an incredible example of leadership and what it looks like when you strive to be the greatest. He called leadership lonely, and I’ve seen that more and more as this semester has progressed. I think something he said on a Showtime special in 2015 really encapsulates what I’ve been feeling lately.  

“There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make,” Bryant said. “We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.” 

It’s my senior year. I’ve got a little over a semester to make my opportunities in college count before I go find a job. My career aspirations are probably a bit large for my own good, but right now, as a 22-year-old, now is the time for me to dream that big. I have a lot of life ahead of me, so why not? Your 20s are a time when I feel like anything can happen. It’s as equally scary as it is exciting. 

I want to be great at what I do. I don’t necessarily aspire to win huge awards or gain national recognition, but I want the satisfaction of knowing that the work I do is meaningful and very well done. That doesn’t just happen. 

This shit isn’t all rainbows and butterflies; you don’t magically one day have skills and experience and everything you need to be successful. It’s a commitment every day to do the small things well, to create habits that lead to being great. And that gets lonely sometimes. 

It means staying in to do homework. Missing out on social activities to work. Making sacrifices in order to reach your goals. I’ve been able to go home and see my family twice this semester, which is somewhat hard for me. But I live two hours from school and typically work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I don’t have time to make the fourhour round trip most weekends.  But it’s a sacrifice I’m making to work both the job I love and the job to help pay the bills.  

I don’t regret it and I wouldn’t change a thing about how this semester has gone. It gets lonely sometimes, but one day I have no doubt it’ll pay off.