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Why I joined and why I stayed

Starting university was like jumping into cold water for me. I had been a pretty good student in school (even though I, like many other teens, struggled with procrastination) and despite being an introvert I  managed, over the course of eight years to be able to talk freely and openly with everyone in my class.

You can imagine that 18-year-old me thought they were ready for life. Talking to people, effortlessly passing exams, life would just get easier, right?

Needles to say, things were a bit different than what I had envisioned. The first semester of university showed me that in real life you only have five minutes to get to know a person and not eight years as I had needed before. I learned that passing exams requires a lot of persistent work and studying during random energy spikes just gets you through STEOP, if you’re lucky. I realized I wasn’t actually ready for the real world: I was scared of approaching people, I was not capable of managing my time and there was no one who knew any better because all of my peers found themselves in similar situations.

Time passed and I stayed the same until one day, when I witnessed the lecture presentation of a student who was part of AIESEC. He somehow hit home on all my insecurities, at the same time mentioning that the organization could help one improve in those areas and develop skills I didn’t even know I would need. This seemed intriguing so I signed up and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in my university career.

I met amazing people who didn’t just help me become a better version of myself, but who also became great friends and my main reason to stay.

What occurred to me recently is that I will eventually have to leave too, that at some point I will finish university and go on to do and learn other things. In the end, AIESEC enables you to be a leader and, as a leader, it is your duty to go out into the world and help other people make the world a better place. The organization gave me a lot of things – development, community and impact – and the best way to give something back is to go further and use the things I’ve learned.

People say you’re only young once, so you should make the best out of it. While that’s  definitely true, I learned that in order to make the best out of something, you have to first be the best version of yourself. That’s where AIESEC helped me the most and I can only advise you to go through the same experience, because even if you won’t end up being the very best version of yourself,  you will for sure be better than you were in the beginning, and isn’t that the aspiration of us all?