Since my first year at university, being a PALS leader was certainly something I wanted to do. However, I never felt academically 'smart' enough, despite being contacted by my programme leader on several occasions. Remote working acted as my security blanket, and I felt less pressure putting myself forward for leading PALS sessions in Semester 2 of my third year.
At first, I was apprehensive, as becoming a PALS leader was out of my comfort zone. However, after the training session, my outlook changed considerably. Based on my experience attending PALS sessions, I had assumed that to be a PALS leader, I had to be an expert on the content in a formal environment. After meeting with the PALS coordinators, I realised that PALS sessions were designed to be much more valuable than I had considered. One of the main deliverables from the training session, which influenced my behaviour as a leader, was that being a PALS leader involved creating a friendly, informal environment where the discussion of ideas and questions about your own experiences could be shared. It was also clear that being a PALS leader also meant being part of a supportive community, which also eased any feelings of pressure that I had.
Undoubtedly, being a PALS leader has increased my self-confidence and communication skills. In contrast to Semester 1 of remote working, I now do not hesitate to turn on my mic and camera in class, and I participate more in discussions. However, the experience also revealed that I have a strong belief that to do something well, it has to be done the first time perfectly. Anything else, I viewed, as a failure. I am a perfectionist, but I had not realised my perfectionism's problematic nature until becoming a PALS leader. Although I do not regard having high expectations for myself as problematic, in future, I plan to make a conscious effort not to be overly critical and recognise when I have set impossible standards for myself.
I am looking forward to my second year as a PALS leader, further developing my listening, planning, creative problem-solving skills and overall personal development.