I lost an election yesterday. It wasn’t really a big election to anyone else, but it was for me.
I was running for the Social Action Vice President position. I am two years younger than anyone else who ran. I had a slim shot at best.
But that’s the thing. I had a shot. And when I lost, it hurt. But one of my good friends got the position, and she is older than me, she has more experience with this group than I do, I can rerun next year and she can’t… There are a lot of reasons why she is just as if not more qualified than I am. I don’t take issue with her winning, and I was reflecting on this last night when I realized.
It wasn’t not winning that really hurt for me. It was the mindset that in order to not win, I had to lose. I lose credibility for the next time I run for a position. I lose confidence. If people didn’t want me for a position that I truly believe I can do best, then why should they want me next time? I lose the position. But the thing is… I haven’t actually lost anything.
In fact, I’ve gained a lot from losing.
I had a generally miserable time last night. It did not really hit me how much not being the SAVP elect mattered to me until I had already put up a happy front for so long that I couldn’t not be happy (And I am legitimately happy for the girl who won. She’s flipping fantastic and I love her). So I don’t think any of the people in the group saw me being miserable, unless I am actually completely transparent and they can all see through whatever front I put up. I found a large, empty dark room, and I sat there as soon as the rest of elections were over (I missed the picture they sent out for the newsletter, which I’m a little annoyed about but not really). I had a good cry and consoled myself with some sugar and the fact that no one could see me feeling sorry for myself, and when I went back into the room where everyone else was, I don’t think anyone could see the traces of tears, and I went back to the happy front, which is infinitely harder to keep up after you’ve started crying than it is before the tears begin to fall. I then spent my entire evening with my friends being happy, and they cheered me up so much, and they actually have no idea how much they helped because they do not know how bad I honestly felt. (if any of you are reading this, then thank you so much, I love you all more than words). But as soon as I went home, the feeling that I will never quite be good enough returned and I snapped at my family a lot, and they honestly did not deserve it (if any of you are reading this, then I am sorry, I was out of line).
But all of that self-pity is honestly outweighed by what I learned.
I did not doubt that I can write a good speech for a set time limit. That part was fine and good and to be honest, it was the least nerve-wracking part of the elections experience. I learned that the girl who won will do great things and I can learn a lot from her thiscoming year. I learned how to write a good social action program, and hopefully I will get to lead the one that I wrote this year, because I worked hard on it. That’s another thing I learned—when I was writing programs and speeches for this, I had to balance it with schoolwork, and I think I learned to do that pretty damn effectively.
I learned that no one just goes for something and wins it because they wanted it the most. I learned how the system works, and how to work the system. I realized just how much I wanted it this year, and now I know how hard I have to work all year long actually actualize this dream of mine.
Most of all, I learned that not winning is not the end of the world, even though it feels like it. Next year will be amazing. I’ll still have a great time, because this group is a collection of people who are my best friends and people who have dealt with me at my best and my worst. The end of the world only comes when you think of it in terms of what you’ve lost instead of what you’ve gained.
And I have gained so much through this experience that on some level the outcome doesn’t matter.
I’m still me.
I’ll still go for leadership opportunities, and social action is still more than a passion for me, it is my lifestyle. And there is one thing that I have that few others do.
I will be here next year, and that’s the future. Nothing is set in stone, but a lot can happen in a year, and there is even more to gain between now and then.
There is more to go for, more risks to take, more friends to make, and more opportunities to make a difference in the world.
I just have to go for them.
And the most important thing I gained is the knowledge that I can go for these opportunities. I might not win. But I will have gone for them.
At least that’s something.