So this past semester, I ran to be the President of all the undergraduates at my University- basically the representative for all undergrads on campus. I was approached for the position in November by a good friend, thought it was complete insanity, but knew in my heart that I would forever regret not giving it a try.
And so began the craziest 5 months of my life. Once I made my decision, I walked up to one of my closest friends in school and asked her if she’d like to run in the elections on my team with me. Without a moment’s hesitation, she agreed. Together, we slowly built a team of 8 executives. It took a long time- our last member joined days before we had to pick up our forms to present our candidacy. But what an all-star time we had. 8 people that represented almost all the faculties, with such a wide range of interests and experience. Those people became half the reason I was so excited to be going on this crazy, crazy adventure.
We spent an insane amount of time putting our campaign together. The weekend before campaigning began, I spent 19 hours working on the same one thing, until it was as close to perfect as can be. Every step of the process was a steep learning curve. It was scary, and it was so easy to doubt everything we were doing because we still had NO idea who we would be going up against. But we rallied, had a few sleepless nights, and put together a really great platform for students.
I remember the first day we went around getting signatures to submit our candidacy and I found out who my Presidential opponents were. There were three of them. That entire week of getting signatures from students was like one anxiety attack after another. Every time I thought I couldn’t handle one more piece of news, there were 10 new things happening that could change the entire game. I was so anxious, so nervous, and still had very little idea what to expect.
The following week was the official beginning of 10 (business) days of campaigning. They were spread out over 3 weeks, and then there would be 3 days of voting. Basically, the entire month of March was spent with my team, in the halls of our University, meeting students, attending events, and being under the scrutinizing eye of anyone who cared to pay attention to the elections. There were debates, radio shows, meet & greets, photo ops, and video interviews. I slept 3-4 hours a night, constantly dreamed about my campaign, and didn’t go to a single class. I barely remember my life in March- it feels like a blur. I wasn’t myself. I was always tired, always worried, always feeling like people were staring at me. I wore the same shirt for 2 weeks and couldn’t be more sick of the color red. I slept at my friends’ house near school and only went home on weekends to recuperate.
And yet? I still managed to get out of bed every single morning, ready to take on another day of campaigning. I pushed myself to what felt like the very edges of my sanity, teetered on the cliff of my own well-being, hoping to win over an entire school of students who would allow my team to represent them. It was on some days thrilling, exciting, and I felt like we were taking on the world. On other days it was terrifying, and I would sit curled up in a ball in my office wondering why the hell I was putting myself through all of this.
The truth is, I re-organized my entire life around this potential job, with this team. I re-imagined my life, visited the office, and despite being terrified every day about losing to one of my competitors, still saw some form of light at the end of the dark tunnel of the month. Presidency was juuuust out of my reach, and yet not all that far, at the same time. I doubted myself, and I never believed in my abilities more. I was confused, and so certain that THIS was what the next year of my life should be like. Complete, sleepless insanity. It would be wonderful. I truly, genuinely felt (and still feel) like it was a job I would be able to do happily, and successfully. I rarely doubted my own abilities, but rather the sheer luck that went with trying to convince students to go out and vote.
Throughout all of this, I was also planning the largest event with my Casa Cares team. Our end-of-year charity fashion show was the last day of voting. I would be hosting a 500 person event, and then heading to school once it was over to find out the results of the elections.
And so, at the end of everything, after pushing every emotion I had down as far as they would metaphorically go; after refusing to feel one more thing until all of this was over; after setting aside my passions, my hobbies, my family, all for the potential greater good of 40 000 undergraduates, I found out that my entire team lost. It was 5am and they were still counting ballots. We sat in the room and heard that we were “definitely not winning” and I was just numb. I had just gone through the craziest three weeks of my life, organized an insanely successful (and equally as terrifying) event that night, and found out that the last 5 months of my life had been spent working on a project that would never come to exist for me.
At first, I shrugged, sat down and just stared blankly ahead. Then I went outside and paced. A friend came by and told me she was very sad for me, and she started crying. And then I started crying. Some of my closest friends and teammates were there, and we all hugged. I didn’t even realize how much I wanted to win until that exact moment, until it was too late. It didn’t feel real, to be honest. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with myself, or how to move on from that place. I ended up going home around 6 in the morning, and truth be told I don’t even remember the next day. I avoided a lot of people as the final results were announced, and I avoided school for a few days after that.
The results were three weeks ago and I’m doing a lot better. I’ve caught up on sleep, put efforts back into school, spent time with friends & family, and started focusing my energies on what comes next. What makes me most sad is how close I became to that team, and how much I would have loved working with them. But I am such a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and I know that failure is part of life. I do believe that this wasn’t the right opportunity for me. Do I still think my team would have totally kicked ass? Yes. But I also know that I am happy to be right here, right now; able to blog again, see my family, spend time with my newborn niece, see old friends and enjoy their company, and read books. I put so much of my life on hold without even realizing how different I had become. These things that I love so much make me who I am, and I was so caught up that I didn’t realize how much I missed all of it.
I think what’s left right now is a bruised ego, more than anything. It kind of feels like a break up; like I’m picking up the pieces of my heart off the ground to glue back together. Because I did put my heart into this project, and I’m nothing if not extremely passionate about everything I undertake.
I’m finally getting to a place where I can figure out what’s next, though. I actually applied for a job a few days after losing the election, made it through two rounds of interviews and then got rejected. Suffice to say, I was on a roll. But I was reminded that I really am passionate about certain things in life, and that passion shines through when people speak to me. I was recently hired to be on the organizing committee for one of the largest business case competitions in the world. A new team, a new home next year, and a whole new experience than the one I was expecting to jump into.
I am so excited. So life isn’t quite as neat and tidy as it was half a year ago. I don’t feel like I’m *as* on track as I would have liked to be, months before my 25th birthday. Most important to me is that I don’t walk away from all of this with a 1 500 word blog post and regrets. I want to accept that this is a thing I did, it was hard, it was simultaneously emotionally exhausting and fulfilling. It was heartbreaking, and it changed me. Hopefully for the better. I think I learned so much throughout this experience, and it opened doors for new opportunities I hadn’t even considered before.
I’m sorta kinda still in limbo. I’m working on learning from my mistakes. I’m reminding myself that one lost chance doesn’t mean all hope is lost forever.
I’m still figuring it out, but I’ll be okay.