“I heard you were a mess after elections,” he said sympathetically. While friends were cheerfully celebrating, playing games and laughing a few feet away, we stood in the darkness staring out at the waves lapping against the shore.
“Yeah,” I shrugged. “I guess I was.”
And then the memories came flooding back. What happened on Election Day.
Around this time last year I was a bit more-high strung than I am now. To put it shortly, I was trying my best to be confident… but I really wasn’t as confident as I wanted to be. So you know how a puffer fish will puff itself up to look bigger than it really is? That’s kinda how I was. The less confident I felt, the more confident I tried to act.
This desperation to act confident and to hide my insecurity really resulted in some careless mistakes.
People develop and they learn and grow. I had some hard lessons to learn and thank goodness I learned them.
I learned this hard lesson when I pursued a treasured goal. I wanted to become president of a certain club at my school. This wasn’t a haphazard club formed out of my passion for jigsaw puzzles, it was a professional organization and one that I felt really helped me when I was trying to get an offer in accounting.
When the big day came, I was dressed in my carefully picked outfit of a gray pencil skirt with a dark red blouse. When elections started, over 50 people started pouring into the room. In front of all those faces, I gave my speech the best that I could, the speech that I had spent the entire semester preparing. During that time, I had asked everyone from my friends to board members to alumni to even accounting professionals I knew on how I could help members in our club with everything from recruiting to making friends and feeling welcome.
The Q&A was where things went wrong.
“So we know your opponent works in the accounting department,” someone asked. “What about you? Why don’t you have that experience?”
My opponent stood to the side, flanked by three past presidents who were all there to support her. I was on good terms with them but I didn’t have the ‘OGs’ backing me like she did.
Another asked, “Haven’t you reached out to past presidents? What is your relationship with them like?”
Then the third was another question that came out of a drama storm that had ensued not more than a week before.
Not more than a week before, the current president of that organization had sent an organization-wide email to over 30-board members basically dragging me through the dirt for a mistake I made. It was a harmless, albeit careless, mistake and I called him immediately to apologize about it. Before he sent it, he did not even tell me or warn me. I was the one to call him – pretty much right after he sent it. The email was so scathing that it had people reeling back and thinking, “Really? Is it that serious? Why do you have to be so mean?”
When my friends and I were having lunch before the election, I said that I would be okay even if I lost. I shrugged and said, “At least I’ll have more time to watch Netflix.” But I didn’t expect elections to happen that way. I didn’t expect for the president himself to interrupt me when I was answering someone’s question and tell me to sit down in front of everyone.
After I finished my speech and they started counting the ballots, the president finished counting the votes and then looked up. Our eyes met and he looked complacent and even smirked as he announced that my opponent won.
When I walked out of the room followed by a loyal friend, I told myself I wouldn’t cry. And before elections, I was confident I wouldn’t but I didn’t expect elections to be as brutal as it did. So I went out to a secluded balcony, stared out ahead and then the tears just came. Less then a few hours later, I had to practice for my case competition.
Sitting in the study room, I couldn’t help but start crying in the middle of practicing my speech. Before I knew it my teammates start crying with me as well and then we were passing tissues around the table. I found out later that this person had been speaking badly about me the entire semester behind my back. I literally had no idea.
I think he disliked me because of mistakes that I had made in the past. Mistakes that I had apologized for. But you can’t choose whether or not someone will forgive. You just gotta do you and move on.
A lot has happened since then. I finished my internship, got my full-time offer with a firm that I really appreciate. During that summer, what really helped me was meeting my coach. My coach was someone who really inspired me because he was driven and determined. He was promoted early twice and when I looked at him I was pretty amazed at what he had accomplished. When I asked others in the office about him, people’s face would light up and they’d say, “Yea! He’s really smart!”
And he was my coach, hehe.
It helped take away the anger I felt from what happened at elections. I realized that I had good things waiting for me – president of the club or not. I realized that I wanted a sense of validation from winning… but I don’t need that validation. I just need to truly learn what it feels like to be confident.
There will be more opportunities in the future. While what happened sucked, it wasn’t that serious.
But still that anger stayed with me against that one person who it seemed like went out of his way to hurt me.
Sometimes he’ll pop up randomly on my Instagram feed or in Snapchats from mutual friends. I’ll click on someone’s Snapchat and there he’ll be.
It’s tempting to hold a grudge and be like, “HE WRONGED ME! HOW DARE HE TELL ME TO SIT DOWN! I’LL SHOW YOU THE MEANING OF SIT DOWN!”
BUUUTTT lately, I’ve been starting to realize that life is too short to hold grudges. I’ve been getting sick a lot. My dentist said that my gums were swollen and bleeding not due to gum disease but because my immune system is more likely weakened. My last two wisdom teeth have started hurting really badly to the point where I saw two dentists and I ended up having to reschedule my Audit exam so I could get them taken out before taking my test.
Now it makes sense to me why God would allow me to go through these random health incidents (at least they’re just ‘small’ incidents in light of what many people go through).
Since going through all this health stuff, I’ve realized that life really is too short to hold grudges. It’s too short to worry about some stupid comment someone made at work or to be sensitive to the wording of someone’s email. Let’s just get things done. Let’s just pursue our dreams without all that extra stuff.
And so, during this time I’ve held a pearl of anger against that person and against every other person who I felt wronged me in some way. Now though I’m really starting to let go. Life is just too short to spend obsessing over the ways that people wronged you or the things you don’t like. I want to focus on what makes me happy.
This time last year, I was really insecure and did not know it. Now, I’m ready to start feeling more confident each day so that I can really learn what it means to feel comfortable in my own flesh.