I Remain

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Image from Today’s Carolinian

2 years ago, I was but one of the students who took the challenge to run for the university student council. As much as I was thrilled about the thought of running, I was terrified at the same time, to the point that I started to question if I was making the right decision. I had a few thoughts in my mind why I shouldn’t be running and why I was not capable of doing so. Here were some of it:

  1. I didn’t have any background in terms of public speaking.
    I was terrible in speaking in front of people. I would stutter all the time. I would start to shake. I would get anxious. I hated being the center of attention. The thought of people looking at me and thinking whether or not they should vote for me was horrible.
  2. I didn’t know how to debate or even just answer a question properly.
    Until now actually. I have always been pretty bad at Q&As (the more when I’m pressured). Just by standing in front of the student body, having the possibility of being questioned about anything, was a complete nightmare.
  3. I didn’t give a damn about school politics.
    I was your typical Chinese guy who went to school just to graduate with honors in order to bring honor to his family. I never really paid attention to the whole campaign period. Though I was always interested in being a part of the student council, the thought of joining school politics never crossed my mind.

In time, I was able to conquer those I mentioned before. It doesn’t happen directly. It’s a tedious process, but you get the hang of it after some time. You won’t even be able to realize that you have adjusted to the feeling of being anxious right in front of people, to being a bit more confident and able to think thoroughly despite all the distractions.

March 5, 2015, 2,277 of you voted for me, garnering enough votes to be one of your next 21 student council councilors.

March 10, 2016, I ran again under the same position and garnered 3,224 votes from the student body, enough for me to be one of your next 21 student council councilors again.

March 2, 2017, I ran once again, but this time, now stepping up to be your next student council president. 1,710 of you voted for me, but sadly, it wasn’t enough to make me as your next student council president. Nevertheless, it was still a victory.

You see, for me, running as a standard bearer for our political party was such a heavy responsibility. All I could think and feel was the pressure of running as the president. The thought of the presidents before me having their successful campaigns, their rich and in-depth speeches that moved hundreds and thousands of students, their knowledge on the different social issues and their ability to answer almost every question that came their way, their braveness to be at the forefront of the students, I felt so invisible. With all this imaginary pressure on my shoulders, I started to feel insecure of my own self and thought that I will never be like the rest of them.

I started to think of questions like, “Will I ever be remembered as a president of STAND?” “Will I be able to leave a mark in this university?” “Will I be able to achieve my goal through the speech that I am relaying to the student body?” I overthought almost every single thing. I broke down a lot. I lost all the motivation that I had from the start. I was at my worst.

But throughout the campaign period, with the help of STAND, a few of my friends, and the supporters, I realized that I didn’t have to be like them in every way, that we are all at the same level. We just have our own unique quirks. Despite of my limitations as a student leader, I still thank you, STAND, for believing in my capabilities to lead 17,000 students. This is really the biggest honor of my life thus far.

To the 1,710 students who voted for me, who believed in the principles of the Student Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy, who realized the root problems on our institution, who still believed in my capabilities to lead the student council despite the drawbacks, I cannot thank you enough for your never-ending support. I may have lost, but I am a firm believer of when one door closes, another one or even more will open. To more opportunities I look forward to, be it small or big.

But one thing’s for sure, as what our alumna and previous student council president, Atty. Frances Jan Villarino would say, “For the Carolinians’ meaningful pursuits, I remain.”

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