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Experience and Attainment

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"Ah!" I screech to myself as a torrent of thoughts crash into being -100 degree heat, the contents of Wendy's fries digesting in my stomach, family, anxiety- as chatter and speculation cease to continue. The bus rolls to a stop as the campus of Georgia Southern surrounds me, greets me. The Boys State 2010 session had officially begun.
Georgia Boys State, a program started in 1937, brings rising seniors together to organize the mock 51st state through campaigns and elections to build a love of democracy and an understanding of the political process. As a delegate on my first day, I rushed eagerly to Eagle Village, or my home for the next week, after being assigned to the Federalist Party. The day continued, hectic, as all first days are with orientation, meetings, formations in the blazing Statesboro heat, and the awkward first lunch. I was oddly optimistic, though. The next few days proved to test this optimism as primaries at the state level intensified, especially for my desired position of Attorney General. Monday and Tuesday night of that week, I fought off urges to sleep while developing speeches and slogans: thinking of ideas, trashing ideas, and thinking of ideas again. My attempt at productivity was stifled, however, because my creativity hit a roadblock in trying to express why I was a great candidate. This small challenge caused me to emulate the politicians so prevalent in the news media, and subsequently but insidiously my personal abandonment began.
My new efforts would have been perfect, but I forgot the electorate consisted of 17 year-olds and without the ingredient of individuality it was impossible to separate me from other candidates. The Federalist Party convention, a golden opportunity, was spoiled as I had not realized I was my own worst enemy. Seeking approval, I tried to assure the crowd of my competence and potential by stating qualifications, like a human resume, hoping something might stick and make an impression. Bad idea! “I’m vice president of this, mock trial that” didn’t impress much of anyone but moreover drowned their ears with the same thing they had already been hearing, and looking back, the whole situation seems almost robotic now.
After that, my strategy devolved, leaving no potential voter safe. I began to hound voters after lunch or between activities with hackneyed promotions while they sat there with forced smiles and made promises to vote for me. Eventually, I discovered more people were flocking to my eccentric opponent Spenser who used his unique brand of humor and lisp to stand out. This discovery prompted a bit of soul searching which made me conclude it wouldn’t be too late to trade the faux politician back for the individual who first walked excitedly off the bus.
However, by the end of the week, Spenser had been elected Attorney General and he had honestly done a great job. I wasn’t mad or envious, though. The realizations gained throughout the experience proved to be just as refreshing. I realized how important being myself is. My quirks make me more than a person in the crowd, another book on a shelf, or student in a classroom. In becoming a faux politician who was smug and unoriginal, I abandoned this animated individual with a great sense of humor who was a lot more candid than calculating and unintentionally stuck out like a sore thumb regularly. Great originals Andy Warhol, Prince, and even Ted Kennedy never sacrificed themselves, and they’re American icons so I don’t know why I felt compelled to do so. From this point on, I will continue as I am into the next phase of my life, college.





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