There is an enormous irony at the core of the Fredonia Follower: of course it’s satire so there is irony at its heart, it’s liver, brain, and every other appendage, but that core irony is the most important.
The Fredonia Follower has never followed anything.
You might say what about the Leader, or what about WNYF, or SA or whatever. You might list any number of campus organizations and events that the Follower has responded to but here language is so important (here and in all places) the Follower reacts to things but it has never followed them.
So that said: today the Follower dies.
At least today the Follower as it has always been will die and it has always been an entity driven almost entirely by my will and my direction.
In ten minutes I will be leaving Fredonia. Today is the last day I will ever belong in this school and this blog will drift out of public knowledge and just become another online ghost netting maybe one read every other month.
I’m not saying the Follower will never be revitalized, I’m confident that someday there will be a student who grasps the obvious wordplay and creates a periodical of the same name, but it will never be mine again and I wanted to take this chance, moments before the biggest thing I’ve ever done fades into nothing, to say hello to all of you who may dig this up years from now or maybe those who will never read this but still continue in the spirit of the Follower in your own creative way.
You are a relentless pain in the ass of most people you meet. Three out of five people on this campus know your name and two out of five of them will actually still speak to you. You have a vision and you are willing to do and spend anything to make that vision come to life: let me tell you about your lifestyle.
You are going to piss people off for the same reason that saying goodbye to this school is so hard for me right now: you represent sudden and violent change. Not only that but you possess the charisma and fool hardy recklessness to pull that change off all on your own and you will have to do it all on your own.
When the Follower was at its lowest point, and it spent a long time at its lowest point, I was alone in operating it, funding it, and writing for it. But at the same time, I never really was alone. I had friends and family that donated. Some of my closest friends even wrote for it and helped me operate it. Understand that you will hear people dismiss you and rebuke you and that an overwhelming wall of impossibility will be far more visible than the clear and present ladder that those closest to you are throwing your way.
To you who is willing to make the climb over that wall I am saying hello because you are the person who will drive the heart of Fredonia’s next great thing, you are going to be another great leader.
Leadership is a funny thing, it is so easy to confuse a title with leadership (remember here, language is key). I don’t care who you are, if you’re some club president or treasurer or just someone who’s never seen the outside of his (or her) dorm room, the title or lack thereof makes you as much a leader as being in a garage makes you a car: leadership is a lifestyle not a title.
In fact let me tell you about great leadership, it’s a lot like being a great teacher, and a great teacher does not teach a student about a subject but rather teaches a student how to learn. Internalize that.
When you learn about math you become good at math, if I ask you write an essay you will tell me how hard that is because you have learned math. Now, if you know how to learn and you are a math student if I ask you to write an essay you will know how to approach that problem and solve it because you learned how to learn.
A leader teaches followers how to lead.
Imagine that, if a leader was capable of more than just feeding off their title like some parasite but instead taught followers how to lead themselves. Imagine if a leader didn’t tell you what to do but taught you how to do: instead of being told what to think you are told to think, that is what a great leader is capable of and it doesn’t matter who you are: we are all capable of thinking if we let ourselves be capable.
You are in charge of your own capabilities.
Remember that massive wall of impossible I mentioned? That is what every problem worth solving looks like, a problem that does not have a cut out answer but will require you to find some way, anyway, to overcome it. Some of you will say it is exactly as it appears, impossible, and to you I say stand down and let a leader show you how to overcome it.
When I started the Follower I was told there was no place for it on this campus. I was told the Leader’s lampoon filled the niche I was attempting to fill myself. I was told there was not enough funding to do what I wanted to do. 20 thousand reads and more Facebook likes than any other campus media outlet later I will ask you, does it look so impossible now?
One person’s will and the aid of everyone I know made the Follower happen and it is a testament that will stand forever for what leadership looks like. I never followed anyone, I dared to believe that what I wanted to do was worth doing and could be done and here it is speaking to you right now.
Today is the last time the Follower will ever speak but every star in the sky will burn out someday and I just hope that there might be enough light left in mine to guide someone else towards their own blazing star. Dare to believe in what you can do and dare to believe that you may someday construct a star so large it lights a thousand others. Dare to believe that you may be capable of that relentless kind of leadership that makes a leader out of every one of your followers.