I am still amazed, when I think about it. Actually, I am completely surprised by my actions. That I decided, despite my (apparent) fear of speaking to people, individually or within groups, I would ran for a leadership role that I believe is set to change the life of students just like me. Given how far I managed to get, it may sound unbelievable when I say I wanted to quit; before signing up, before the polls opened, during the voting week. There was always that voice inside of me that told me I was making a fool of myself, that I wasn’t good enough to do what my heart and soul were telling me I should do. It’s interesting, how strangers tend to see parts of you that you fail to recognise yourself. Like how fellow candidates were in disbelief when I told them of my fear of speaking to people. I guess that’s the beauty of stepping out of your comfort zone then, you get to challenge the false beliefs you have of yourself, and prove that you are definitely capable of more than you imagine.
I have spoken about comfort zones somewhere in this website, how in order to begin truly living, we need to be courageous enough to step away from what is familiar and experience something new, possibly something quite far from what we imagine. Interestingly, it is by studying in a place I wasn’t too keen to be in, that I began to appreciate the beauty of stepping into places and spaces that make us uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for one to go where they are clearly unwelcome, or do things that they truly hate. Instead, I speak of slight discomfort, that which makes us grow and edge on closer to our true self. It is by seeing the world from a different perspective that we get to uncover parts of ourselves that are hidden far beneath the surface. It is our duty to connect to those parts, but this can only be done if we are brave enough to go searching for the unknown.
I have no idea what got into me this year, but I was set out to make this a year to remember and so far, that is exactly what I did. I ran for leadership role at uni. While it took a lot of convincing on my part and that of the people I initially confided in, I eventually decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. The truth is, I felt drawn to this position. It was such an intense feeling, one I had never had before in my life. Any efforts I made to try and brush it away, only severed to increase my desire to run. Thoughts of how this role would help me better help the friends I’ve seen struggle at uni, or how this role would help increase representation of black students, kept me up at night. To be honest, I felt as if the position was designed with my name written all over it. So, despite being the ‘quiet’ girl in the back of the lecture hall, I decided to give it my all, and I ran.
2 weeks. That’s how long the campaign period lasted. It felt like forever though. I had so much to get done and barely enough time. Had I ever worked on a political/ leadership campaign before? not all all. Thankfully, it gave me the chance to put my marketing knowledge to good use (hinting at my parents that they made a good investment). I had to organise a team, which is hard when people aren’t as involved with the university in the first place, come up with a campaign strategy, walk around campus pushing my campaign, speak to people individually and in the lecture halls, all while attending all my lectures and progressing with my assignments.
Was it easy? Of course not ! I had so many moments where I felt like giving up i.e. when lecturers do not cooperate (they don’t have to), when students are quite rude to you, managing a small team, falling behind on uni work, and not to mention going up against 10 other candidates! It was a lot, and it really pushed me to breaking point, I remember on the Wednesday, I was completely drained, and went home to try sleep it off. Amazingly, that’s all I needed, a small break to recover. I actually ended up baking lots of brownies which were part of my campaign.
The downside to stepping out of your comfort zone, as I discovered is that there’s no guarantee that you will succeed in what you do. At least within your confines you have some idea of what may happen, but outside, you just have to try play your cards right. This is what I came to learn on the 6th of March, when the results were announced and I didn’t get the role, despite all the sacrifices, the sweat and the tears and it hurt. The shock and numbness I felt in the moment and in the following weeks is indescribable. I wanted to crawl up in my bed and disappear from the world, nothing made sense. But as my good friend mentioned the other day when I confronted her about how I felt about this, ‘In life 1+1 is not always 2, just because you work hard in life doesn’t mean you’ll get that which you seek’. She’s right, because despite not getting the position, reflecting on the process revealed so much about myself that I did not know.
So I mentioned I didn’t win, however, it is important to also mention that among 10 other very strong candidates, I came out second; A difference of only 5 votes. It is mind-blowing to believe that 1132 students voted for me, because I personally probably only got about 200 to vote. This definitely served to confirm that I do have leadership qualities, and that my campaign was really effective despite having one of the smallest campaign teams. There’s definitely a lot more that I can say about this experience, but the fact remains that I do indeed have a powerful voice, something I’d have never discovered had I chosen not to ran. Another lesson I learned is the importance of friends who support you along your journey, it’s petrifying doing things you wouldn’t normally do, but a good support system definitely helps in making it easier.
The (un)fortunate part about stepping out of your comfort zone is that it has to be a continuous process, once you take the first steps you shouldn’t allow yourself to settle use your experiences and lessons learned in the previous step as building blocks for the next. This is important because life is all about learning and experiencing new things. There are definitely better versions of you waiting to be discovered and it is 100% worth the struggle every time.