Accepting: Losing the Election

If you live in the US, the upcoming presidential election is a pretty big deal. Whether you’re a die-hard Republican or a Obama fan (or economist who doesn’t care who wins as long as the recession fixes itself), elections are exciting events.

But while everyone congratulates the winner after results are posted, does anyone take notice of the … well, loser? To realize that at least half of the country doesn’t support you has to be somewhat shattering to your self-esteem.

In high school, I made the mistake of running for Vice President of Beta Club. So, this is how the election process in our happy little club is run:

1. Student submits official statement saying he/she is running for:

  • President (whose name appears at the top of fliers)
  • Vice President (who’s actually responsible for everything)
  • Secretary (who “takes notes” at meetings. Notice the quotation marks.)
  • Treasurer (who collects dues at the beginning of the year and then is deemed useless)
  • Parliamentarian (who announces when each meeting is over…yeah, no comment.)

2. Student makes a 30-second speech at the next meeting in front of 94 members waiting impatiently for the meeting to be over.

3. Everyone votes on a piece of paper.

4. Results are posted the next day.

5. Winners get hearty congratulations. Losers disappear into… oblivion.

As a natural introvert, I did not like the prospect of delivering a speech in front of 15 and 16-year-old, easily bored adolescents. I’m sweating in my seat, waiting for my turn to speak. Suddenly the words jumbled inside my mind. Am I running for VP or Treasurer again?

My perfect speech would have went something like, “I am responsible, dedicated, and dependable. You can trust me to handle every detail.” You know, something cheesy and cliched. Instead, I stuttered out my name, mentioned some jumbo about “being trustworthy with money,” and ended with “If you want the best, vote for the last!” (Because I was the last person to deliver my speech. Yeah… I don’t think my fellow students caught that reference.)

To be honest, high school elections are basically popularity contests. If you have a giant circle of friends and are generally likable, then nobody cares if your speech comprised only three words: “Vote for me.”

Needless to say, I lost. It was embarrassing since only two of us ran for VP, so I knew more than half the room didn’t vote for me. I know I shouldn’t have taken it personally, but boy, was my self-esteem shattered. The fact that my opponent’s friends all flocked around her like mockingbirds and saying things like, “Ha! I knew you’d win” and “Was there any doubt?” didn’t help much.

But in the end, we can trust fate to put us on the right path. Not winning an election isn’t the end of the world. Hey, at least you had the guts and commitment to run in the first place. Not a lot of people are willing to put themselves in the middle of the auditorium to try to convince the public that he or she is a good candidate.

Besides, think about past elections where you had to place a vote. The school board, student council, sports committee, art club… Afterwards, did you make a big deal about whoever lost? Did you think to yourself, “Oh man, Xavier is clearly a better person overall than Jane because he won and she lost!”

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