Pre-departure Blog – Jessica Caldwell WIP 2012

Being called up to the plate to be in the class of 2012 was not a call I was expecting. Despite applying and getting an interview I couldn’t see myself getting a spot as I felt I wasn’t the ‘type’. The type that is invaluable to their community, the type that writes academic papers for journals, the type that rescue kittens from burning buildings seemed so far away from the person I was. I used my daily experiences at university to pad out my interview, failing to have that epic story of overcoming a great adversity that I needed to seal the deal. Leaving the process feeling slightly dazed and confused as to why I had given the mundane answers I had, and so put the whole experience to the back of my mind.

Getting my acceptance email was an unexpected surprise on an evening at Belfast Fashion Week. Sitting front row amongst people I felt comfortable with, the offer to join the class was surprising, overwhelming and caused a sudden feeling of anxiety. Whilst being immensely happy and a little proud I waited impatiently over the next few weeks to hear of my class and the program and all of the talented people I’d be meeting. I was overwhelmed when the class list came out citing achievements and successes of 29 young people who I had never met but would share this portion of my life with. Feeling like the group wildcard I let the excitement and nerves grow with each email as I waited for orientation.

When D-day came around I was ready to enter into a new professional world that I was unsure I would fit into. Being in Belfast gave me a sense of ease, introducing myself on my own turf. There is perhaps no more important lesson than being proven wrong on your own turf. The Programs ethos of leadership through understanding, and utilizing a selection of different experiences and talents made me question my initial self doubt and quite frankly feel slightly embarrassed at my lack of self confidence, a trait I have always taken pride in having. The open atmosphere immediately created, allowed me to be totally myself and see that every other class member had felt the same as me, no one felt like the type. We all in different ways were the type of person willing to step up. Questioning your talents and abilities is exactly what the Program wants you to do. Challenging what I feel about myself and what I bring to the table is how I can nurture the gifts I have been given. Everyday experiences are what grow your views and understanding of the world around you and should not be belittled, especially not by yourself.

If this Program can make me think this much about what I have to offer the world before I’m even on the plane then I will ensure that I am always the type that is ready to step up to the challenge.