Getting involved with Young Americans for Liberty has had profound effects on my life, changing who I am at the very core of my person. This may seem like an absurd statement, but it is absolutely true. A year ago I was starting a chapter at my school, my first action as a member of this organization. Now, I am a state chair helping to grow liberty around the country. The growth I have achieved through volunteering, and eventually working for this organization, have changed me completely. I am no longer the same person I was a year ago, and I would never wish to return to the person I used to be.
The biggest change I have experienced is in relation to my social skills. Before getting involved with YAL, you could not find a more socially pathetic student if you tried. My entire life up until that point was crippled by extreme social anxiety that inhibited me in almost every facet of my life. I couldn’t talk to strangers without having panic attacks. I had no self confidence and was extremely ineffective. Sure, I was passionate about liberty, but that I had no ability to turn that passion into results.
Having that motivation to stand in front of a table and engage strangers was a big factor. I can remember the first time I tried, freaking out as people walked by. Sometimes I would fail to conjure up of the confidence to say anything, and the potential prospect would slip on by. Occasionally, I was able to muster the courage to speak up and engage. Eventually this became easier. While I was scared to death to carry out my roll as a chapter president, I was determined to accomplish my goals. I went from trembling in front of a table to approaching large groups of students with nothing but a clip board and effectively engaging them as a whole.
However, the thing that really effected my ability to engage was being brought to conferences around the country and being placed in rooms with strangers who cared about the same things I cared about. The first time I went to a YAL convention, I made maybe two friends. The second time, I made thirty. I am no longer capable of keeping count.
Training also played a huge factor. Not only was I exposed to many amazing workshops via the YAL conventions, I was also exposed to the Youth Leadership School which fundamentally changed me as an activist. While the social events allowed me to overcome my social anxiety, gaining a solid grasp on political technology allowed me to push my ideas effectively, and with confidence, on campuses all over the country.
Finally, being put in a position where I am charged with overseeing and motivating others really pushed my self image and social confidence up to a tier I never thought possible. I can remember the first time I stood awkwardly in front of a group of local activists, stuttering and stumbling, trying to explain my activism plans for the upcoming weeks. Now I am overseeing chapters in several states, confidently organizing plans for progressing liberty on many campuses.
Some people are natural leaders. I certainly was not. Before getting involved, I would have never thought of myself as leadership material. Now, I can think of nothing else I want to be. While these changes may seem insignificant, one’s social abilities are one of the most fundamental attributes which defines someone. I do not resemble at all, the person I used to be. The person I was just one year ago. This goes way beyond political activism. Everything I do that involves me interacting with other individuals has been dramatically altered, for the better, through my experiences in campus activism. If I ever leave politics, I know I will accomplish what I set out to achieve because of the skills I have gained through my YALiberty experience.
Getting involved in Young Americans for Liberty was, by far, the best decision I have ever made in my life. I can’t even calculate how much I owe this organization. Looking back at my life, I couldn’t point to a single time where I was happy or even satisfied with who I was. Now, I couldn’t be more stoked. From useless student to liberty to now a movement leader, I now possess the ability and confidence to cause real change. To advance all the principles that we have united behind.