Running for a position on your school’s student union is the most gratifying, beautiful, wild, horrendous, and draining thing you will ever do in your undergraduate years of university.
Going into it, I was so naive to think it would be “just another learning experience.” And while I did learn a heck of a lot, I can confidently say that I will never be the same person ever again. My friends would advise, “don’t let this change you,” but hell it did! And, I’m forever grateful for it.
Day 1 felt like I was getting myself involved in something far beyond my skills and personality. I was surrounded by amazing people who have done so much for the world already. I was an imposter, like I wasn’t cut out for it. And I would tell myself that I wanted to be a teacher, not a politician.
How is it that I’m hanging out with the President of the York Federation of Students? What in God’s name am I doing here?
Looking back at the Day-1-Amanda now that it’s Day Over, I know that I was meant to learn more about myself and the world through this opportunity. In fact, I gained an overwhelming amount of information about humanity as a whole in a matter of 30 days.
My biggest take, hands down: people will be rude, aggressive, and quite honestly, disgusting. The love of power gets the best of people, and the greed is real. The Executive positions are full-time paid position, and the Board of Directors positions look good on a resume. So, it’s expected (but rather pathetic) why people become consumed by this drive for success. Leaders want the best for the people, not the best for themselves, so I was shocked every time I witnessed forms of this detrimental self-love.
But on the other hand, we have people running who are genuinely concerned about our education system and the future of our world, whose integrity spoke louder than words.
And when the season officially began, I didn’t go a day without crying, or without having some type of mental breakdown. I would come home with a list of injustices I had witnessed, or a number of situations that had tested me throughout the day. I asked myself why I ever got involved in the first place about 20 times a day, and my conversations with God escalated from “God, you are so good” to “God, what the heck was that?” all in a matter of 10 minutes each time. And, on top of this, there’s still life going on in the background: hundreds of personal problems, five courses, two part-time jobs, church commitments, and the list goes on…
I had to drop a course because of the time and effort these elections required me to put in, otherwise my grades would drop.
But even though $1500 went down the drain, here’s a list of lessons money can’t buy:
1. Your assumptions of friendships are so off.
The people you expect to be at the front-lines supporting you will surprise you – and not in a good way.
You will be shocked to realize that you have high expectations of friendships and the meaning you give friendship is not universal.
I was actually taken aback by the people who willingly came out to help that I hadn’t considered close friends. Now those people, those people will surprise you – in an incredible way. And I am forever grateful and humbled by them.
2. You will suddenly have hundreds of enemies.
I’ve always been the type to want to please people.
It’s safe to say I’m past that.
Strangers I’d never met not once in my life were labelling me based on my team, my race, my name, my looks, my level of education, my experience, my friends, you name it.
Sometimes I think the whole reason God brought me to experience this was because I was meant to learn the following lesson: it’s impossible to be on everyone’s good side. I’ve been told, “You’re not going to be for everyone, and that’s a really good thing.”
I now believe in my vision and in myself far more than I believe in the need to be loved by this world.
3. Your family is your number 1 crutch and lifeline.
The people I tend to neglect most were the ones who were there for me at any and every hour of the day, no questions asked, with open arms. They listened to me cry, they fed me, they picked me up from places at 1am in the cold morning, they lifted me up from the ground, sometimes literally. They even packed my bag for my retreat after the elections were over because I had no energy whatsoever.
4. God comes clutch every time.
God will never fail you. Stick to your values and God will come through. Sure, it might be more difficult when you see that somebody else isn’t playing fair and is seemingly winning by playing a dirty game, but you will reap the rewards of those seeds sown in honesty and love. All in good time.
5. Your comfort zone is the confidence you have before writing an exam.
Aka it’s inexistent. You literally have no comfort zone when it comes to elections. As you’re campaigning on the floor, trying to stop people to remind them to vote, your ego is no where to be found. You are that person everybody is annoyed with and is rejecting with a quiet smile, and sometimes no facial expression at all.
In that split second I have heartburn from the rejection, but now after enduring so many split seconds, I am ready to face any form of rejection. And, I currently have “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by Kelly Clarkson on repeat.
6. People will bash you for your ideas. Believe in yourself anyway.
That is all.
7. Students don’t always have time to inform themselves on elections, don’t take it personally.
As part of the majority of our population that is required to vote, do we actually take time to educate ourselves on platforms in our federal or municipal elections? We probably hear two or three ideas and vote based on that. I saw this happening firsthand during these student elections.
And, candidates were appealing to emotion, rather than the intellect. People were stimulated based on fast promises (which were unrealistic for the most part). And, it’s rather unfortunate that this is happening in a University, where we are meant to question things and freely express ourselves based on facts and realities.
Though it is the lesser of two evils, this democratic system we have is so flawed. I’m now that much more certain that we need to work for a better functioning system. And, I’m also that much more motivated to love this world with everything I’ve got. Because, seeing how self-driven people are has gotten me fired up. It’s the reason we can easily become stagnant in this world. We love ourselves so damn much. And not for our character, we love ourselves for what we have, whether it’s money, status, the love of people, etc… It’s actually scary.
Take this analogy into consideration: when a vase wants to stand alone for people to admire it for its crystal, there’s no room for flowers. There is ultimately no life in it.
So folks, this is everything I can tell you about student politics before this post turns into a self-help book. I really hope some of you actually take on the challenge and learn these lessons for yourselves! Take a risk. I was afraid of failing every single day, but I did it anyway. Faith over fear, always.
ANNOUNCEMENT: I am extremely thrilled to announce that I will be your Faculty of Education Director for the York Federation of Students in the upcoming year. Now that’s just a fancy name for saying I’ll be helping raise a voice for students of the Faculty of Education.
I am so proud of my team Student Action for working so hard, and feverishly fighting through any hardship we faced. A big thank you to them. I also want to thank every beautiful soul out there who voted, campaigned, shared, texted, called to support (or who bore with me when I called breaking down at 1am). Basically, anybody who volunteered their time and energy. I genuinely could not have done it without you. I need y’all to know that. I won by 1 vote, so that tells you that every minute of campaigning counts, every tear shed counts, and every single vote counts.
Thank you to my managers at work for being patient with me throughout this past month. Thank you to my family for baring through my hanger and quick temper. Thank you to the friends who showed up every time I asked for help. And thank you to God for always coming through, my homie since day 1.
I am so honoured beyond containment that y’all are trusting me with this position. I look forward to work this upcoming year with passionate and dedicated teams to bring about positive change and meaningful promise for the teachers-to-be of York University. Let’s get it! Together!
Much love to you all,