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I Don’t Care What You Say, I am Proud of Myself
“Why would you want to do that? It’s like the stupidest thing ever. You don’t do anything, and it’s just a popularity contest.” This was the response I got from my friends when I told them that I was running for student body historian.
I have always loved performing, but I haven’t always been able to keep the butterflies controlled. In May of my seventh grade year, my friends began talking about the elections. I suppose I have always wanted to be on student council, but giving a speech in front of 600 people was not going to happen.
One day, I was driving home with Lily and Samantha. Lily was talking about how she had just gotten the packet to run for class president. She was looking through it. I think I got a little jealous because I really wanted to do something like that, yet I thought I didn’t have enough self-confidence to try. Anyway, Samantha said that she also wanted to.
“Lana, would you want to run for president?” my mom asked from the front seat.
“Are you kidding me?” I replied, looking at her like she had lost her mind, “There is no way I would win,” because, seriously, it’s only a popularity contest.
I guess we talked about it for a while longer and I started looking through Lily’s packet. By the end of the car ride, I had decided to run for historian. I was so scared, knowing that I would have to give a speech, but I put that out of my head for a while.
The next day I got my packet and signed up to run for historian. There were two people running against me, two sixth grade boys. I knew I could beat them. So Lily and I went around getting the recommendations and other items filled out. By the time we turned the packets in, the two boys had dropped out.
During this week my mom and I had been working on my speech. It was getting really good, but the idea of saying it in front of 600 10- to 13-year-olds (the most judgmental age group on the planet) was still terrifying. Mrs. McAvoy had given me the option of not giving a speech at all because no matter what I would win. I decided to give the speech anyway and maybe this shows I did have self-confidence.
So back to what my friends said. I just laughed at their little rebellions against the way our school is set up, because in a way I agreed but the idea of being able to put this on high school applications and feel that I had actually accomplished something in middle school was more important.
On the day of the speeches, I was so nervous, about as nervous as I was on the first day of middle school. I left my first period class early and we met in Mrs. McAvoy’s room. My hands were shaking and my stomach felt like it was about to explode. I was thinking, “Why had I ever decided to do a speech?” I was wondering why I was even running in the first place. I was looking around and trying to see if other people were as nervous as I was. They were.
We walked out to the lunch area and waited until all 600 sixth and seventh graders showed up. The tables kept getting more and more filled with noisy children and I was shocked at how many people I was going to have to speak in front of.
Of course, I was chosen to go first. Mrs. McAvoy pulled the microphone up to the level of my mouth (it was a much greater height difference than it was for the other girls). I took a LOT of deep breaths as they introduced me and then I started.
“Hi everyone! My name is Lana, and I want to be Davidson’s Student Body Historian. There is an undeniable fact that all of you already know about me. If you haven’t said it, you’ve thought it—and yes, you are absolutely right, I’m tall.”
I know you’re thinking, “Why would she talk about her height in her speech?” and I know it is weird, but I didn’t want to give one of those speeches about how I was good for this school and I would do a good job and blah, blah, blah. So I decided to make people laugh instead, and what better way to do that then making fun of myself?
I continued with the speech. “So before I go any further, I’m going to answer the most pressing question on your mind: ‘Exactly how tall is she?’” The answer to that is 5’9 and 15/16ths of an inch. And by the end of this speech, I will be 5’10” because yes, that is how fast I grow.”
By the end of the word “grow” all my butterflies completely disappeared. I was having a good time standing up there and people were actually laughing. Getting 600 kids (probably more like 400) to laugh is an amazing accomplishment.
By the time I got to my last few sentences:
“Here are the last three reasons you should vote for me:
1. You will always be able to pick your student body historian out in a crowd.
2. Everyone needs someone to look up to.
3. You have no other choice.
So, vote for me, Lana. I’m enthusiastic. I’m organized. I’m competent—and yes, I’m tall!”
I was so happy, elated, and yes, tall. But not in the measuring way—in the way of feeling amazing, confident and proud of myself!
No matter what people say about how student council doesn’t make a difference and how it is just a popularity contest, I don’t care—because for the first time I really was confident in myself.