New Year, New Voice

How do you define a successful person? What qualities do you search for? I don’t know about you, but in the past, I defined a successful person as one who never fails or loses. They are the person who achieves all of their goals. That is the person I wanted to be. I wanted to succeed but I failed many times. I did not excel in my science courses, lost many competitions, and was rejected by opportunities I applied for. I was failing to meet the standards of perfection that I had set for myself.

To overcome these disappointments, I invested in education, self-reflection and taking on new challenges. In this time of self-improvement, I had the opportunity to attend a Resonate leadership training through my volunteering placement at Young Women’s Christian Association of Rwanda (YWCA Rwanda).

When I joined the Resonate workshop, I was a leader seeking enlightenment, and I carried a mind in need of ignition. Through Resonate, I discovered and explored the power of storytelling. I was thrilled to learn that the difficulties we face do not diminish the power of our values, and the potential we have to influence our community.

I’ve learned that we all have strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations that may change as we grow and interact with people. In the Resonate “Storytelling for Leadership” workshop, I met lively young women who were full of energy and enthusiasm. From these women, I learnt that it is important to learn from people around us and value their abilities and personal stories. In addition to that, I learnt that stories consist of lessons that can act as stepping stones to our goals. The Resonate trainers shared the story of a hummingbird that tried to stop a large forest fire by going back and forth carrying a drop of water. That bird was a leader. This story, and the stories of the women around me, changed my attitude and inspired me to be confident to act, and to not be discouraged by challenges along the way. I actually began to embrace them.

Now, I am an employee at YWCA Rwanda, which is a vibrant community and leading local non-governmental organization that gives me the opportunity to learn and serve from a grassroot level, in order to transform my community and empower other women. I am now more confident with taking leadership roles, sharing my knowledge, and leading change. What seemed as challenges before still exist, but they do not limit me or my self-confidence.

So, I will ask you again, how do you define a successful person? If you had the same answer as I did before, I hope your perceptions have changed throughout this story. I now define a successful person as one who stays focused in the face of challenges and keeps trying until their dream is realized. This is my story…and it is not over yet.

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Dalia Elmelige