The Dictator This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 2, 2012
It had always been my philosophy to cast aside the opinions of others and simply be myself. Whether that meant I was a beloved figure throughout the social echelons of school or subject their harsh scrutiny, I did not know, and would not know until my freshman year of high school.

I'd always viewed myself in a positive light, no self esteem issues for me. This was partly the result of being raised by a pair of very self-satisfied adults who constantly reminded me that I was, in many ways, superior to my school mates, but also because I was egged on by the belief that I was born to rise above the rest and leave a positive impact in this world. My destiny, if you will. Where I got that belief, I have no idea, but it remained with me for the rest of my life.

With this heightened sense of satisfaction with myself, it's no surprise that I was a bit of an outcast throughout my early years. I considered it below me to play with such simple children, I had deemed them beneath me and made it very clear in the way I would make snide remarks about their grades that I did not think highly of them. Looking back, I was a lot like those kids in the movies with the hoity-toity attitudes and disdainful expressions as they looked down their nose at other people. But the main reason I was a social outcast was that I was shy.

To this day, I hate it when a friendly stranger strikes up a conversation with me while waiting in line. I hate it when I have to make a phone call just to order take out. Nowadays I can hide my shyness and carry on a conversation when I have to, but as a little girl I'd hide my shyness with a snobby attitude, never revealing how much I wished I could play with others.

Gradually, I outgrew my shyness and eventually made many new friends. I began to enjoy school and built my reputation of being an amazing student. Year after year, I'd collect student-of-the-year awards, get the highest grades in all my classes, and consistently amaze my teachers with my ability. It got to the point when my dad was worried that I didn't fail enough, and when I finally would, it would devastate me.

Being the confident teenager my parents had raised me to be, I didn't think much of failure. I'd been elected class president, beating the most popular boy in school and gaining the support and respect of the freshman class.

I didn't know why at the time, but I took that job more seriously than I'd ever taken anything before. The presidency became more than a title, it became a part of me that had remained hidden for far too long.

My shyness, which had held me back from making new friends, had also held me back from what I craved: power. I used to scoff at the "popular" kids, insisting that no one really liked them and that thirty years from now, nobody would remember them. But deep down inside I envied how they always seemed to get what they wanted, how they'd dress, act, and pretty much charm everyone with their social graces. I wanted to be one of the elite.

The moment I shed my inhibitions and decided to run for president, I realized just how perfect the job was for me. I loved to lead. I'd always had a dominant personality and throughout the years, I learned how to charm people into liking me. It was perfect.

But the true reason why the presidency meant so much to me was because for the first time in my life, I'd achieved something not because I was smart or because the teachers liked me, but because I worked for it. Nobody could say that I won simply because I had perfect grades. I wanted something and I went for it.

Throughout my whole life my reputation of being a wonderful students made school easier for me. Teachers had loved me and because of that, they were less harsh with me than they were with others. But from the moment I heard my name called as they were declaring our new officers, I knew just how far I'd come from the once shy, socially awkward girl I was. I was ecstatic.

Because of my newfound responsibility, I not only wanted to prove to my class that they made the right decision by voting for me, I also wanted to exceed everyone's expectations and gain recognition as an amazing president.

I dove into my work, organizing and planning different fundraisers, even designing the class shirt myself. I thought I was doing a great job, but I soon discovered that the cabinet the officers and I had chosen wasn't.

The reasons we chose each individual cabinet member were different, but as whole they were all chosen because of what we thought they would contribute. We were sadly mistaken in our choosing.

The work was unevenly distributed throughout cabinet. We soon found that only a select number of individuals would participate while the rest would simply attend meetings. The ones who would simply attend meetings would complain that the rest of us would never let them do anything. That was not true.

Volunteering had been a huge part of the way cabinet was run; if you didn't volunteer for anything, you wouldn't do anything. They disgusted me with their apathy towards our class when during their interviews, they'd insist on how hard they would work and how much they love our class. They disgusted me with the way they would complain about how I was being dictatorial, when all I was trying to do was step up when nobody would. They disgusted me so much, but most of all I was hurt.

I was hurt how they would badmouth me behind my back and tell me how amazing I was to my face. I was hurt how my vice president, who was supposed be my main supporter, led them in their backstabbing. He would complain about how I never let him say anything even though he had so many good ideas. I can tell you outright that I had, on many occasions, asked him if he had any ideas. He did not.

I never knew that my crowning glory would bring about this feeling of betrayal. I felt like I was lied to, like all my hard work was for nothing. I didn't realize how poorly they thought of me. The worst part, however, was when during the next elections, the boy I'd beaten the year before took credit for everything I'd done.

I lost the next election. My class, which had been so kind to me during my term, abruptly turned their back towards me in favor of the boy I'd already beaten. My class had lost faith in me.

Imagine your proudest achievement, the one where you devoted so many hours to and put your heart and soul into, taken away only to be badmouthed about how you didn't deserve it. Imagine your number one supporters, who told you only good things about yourself, and suddenly discovering how much they detest you. Imagine all your glory and pride being taken away and given to someone else who didn't work as hard as you did.

It killed me to go to meetings after that. I died a little inside every time someone called me "prez" only to say "oh wait..." and awkwardly walk away.

I really thought that I did a good job as president. I did my best to be there when no one else was, to organize when no one else would, to cover someone when someone else should. I didn't know this would be interpreted as controlling or dictatorial.

I still get a little sad when I think about it. I still remember the things people would call me, the things people would wrongly believe.

One day I was walking to my locker during passing period when a girl I'd never talked to stopped me.

"Um, Shevonne," she said shyly. "I... I just wanted you to know that I think you did an amazing job as president and I really look up to you. So I hope you run again next year."

I was shocked. I stammered a thank you before she walked away, leaving me to my own thoughts. The day after that, my friends and I organized a get together. Somehow the conversation strayed to my term, which I talked about hesitantly.

"It's okay Shevonne, you'll always be president to us," they told me. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. In the days that followed, people would come up and tell me they thought I did a wonderful job, that I should definitely run again, that I shouldn't listen to the people badmouthing me.

"They're all his supporters anyway," they would tell me.

Their genuine kindness and recognition meant the world to me. It gave me hope that it wasn't me that was the problem, it was the laziness of the people who were supposed to help.

So call me what you will. Heartless, controlling, tyrannical. I'd much rather be that than someone who isn't passionate about what they do. I am prideful, I am sensitive, I am harsh. I am a trendsetter. I am a leader. I am a dictator. But, in the words of Kurt Cobain, I would rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.

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