A year ago today I was a frantic mess. As a graduating senior, I was drowning in coursework, trying to meet the requirements of my two majors, making the most of my days as a student at Michigan State University, and also facing the scary question, the one that looms on the horizon for all college seniors, ’What’s next?’

It’s the same dreaded question one avoids when coming home for Thanksgiving– that, and the ‘So, have you met a nice boy yet?’.

For me, the ‘What’s next?’ question was never as scary as the, ‘Am I good enough for what’s next?’ ’.

Being the planner that I am, I had a Plan A and a Plan B. Being the planner that I am, I was freaked out, for I only had TWO  plans. Long story short, I achieved my Plan A and became one of 27 fellows, out of over one hundred that vied, to make up Challenge Detroit’s Year 7 cohort.

Yay. However, was I good enough or, was I merely lucky?  

I, along with many other 20-something-year-olds out there, suffer from the Imposter Syndrome. The Imposter Syndrome sneaks up right as you get that awesome job, win that award or even receive a compliment from the boss.

Fast forward to the first day on the job, and you guessed it, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to make my fellowship look bad, nor did I want to face the fact that maybe I didn’t have what it takes to spearhead avenues of change and growth in the city of Detroit.

I applied to Challenge Detroit to not just work in the city, for I could have just answered help wanted ads, no, I wanted to be a leader in my city. I wanted to immerse myself in the challenges the city faced, surround myself with the efforts that were taking place in the city and use the skills I had to elevate those efforts.

I just lacked the confidence to do so. Lacked.

Now, although the imposter syndrome sneaks up on me from time to time, I look back at the leadership opportunities that Challenge and my host company provided me. From working on impactful projects for various nonprofits throughout the city, leading a team of my peers, to presenting my team’s finding to a group of community members and stakeholders during Challenge projects, I not only learned from the experiences, but I grew. At my host company I wear multiple hats as I plan and execute organization wide events, lead and manage projects and timelines, among overseeing other responsibilities.

Through the sometimes (often times) stressful situations, the confidence I have in figuring things out, has started to ooze into the confidence I have in my skills and thus, the confidence I have in myself.

This confidence helps me validate my position and propels me to continue working towards tackling some of the challenges in the city whether it be through Challenge Detroit, through my position at Goodwill Detroit, or through whatever becomes the next leg of my journey.

I don’t want to just #Work in Detroit, I want to #Lead in Detroit and I believe I have just what it takes to do so.