Shaking it up
Shaking it up. I’ve never been a typical “shaking it up” type of person, per se. I’ve always been a more “nervously try to go with the flow and hope it ends well” type of gal. However, when I got that question, “How have you shaken things up in your community?”, not one experience came to mind. This sudden realization may or may not have sent me into a minor existential crisis spiral, AKA a weird, contemplative, self-absorbed place that can be a little hard to get out of. You know, the kind of mindset that makes you ask yourself, “Who am I? What have I contributed to other people's lives? Have I had an effect? What even is an effect? And, how do you measure that? Am I even a person? I wonder if in an alternate universe there’s another Maya who “shakes things up” like no one’s business…” and so on and so forth!
As you can see, I think things through thoroughly. Some call this overthinking; I call it considering all of my options and imagining every scenario in order to best prepare myself. I try to weigh everything out and not make decisions too rashly. But I got that question, and I had never “shaken it up.” And that, my friends, is how I decided, within a ten minute thinking spell, that I would run for president of my school’s 800 member chapter of DECA.
DECA is an international business club that allows students to gain real world business experience. Through DECA, I have co-authored three thirty-page business plans, two of which were both State and National qualifiers. My whole high school experience has been filtered through a DECA lens. At first, the organization seemed much bigger than me, and, as a (quiet, socially awkward, terrified, etc.) freshman, I simply did not have the confidence in myself to pursue leadership positions or high awards in competition. However, as a sophomore, I co-authored a plan that placed 1st in the state, and that was a huge confidence booster for me. I gained knowledge, writing skills, and a renewed sense of self-confidence that I’d lost since I was a know-it-all 11 year old. I became the Committee Head for the Historian branch of the chapter, and joined the Business Leadership class junior year. DECA made my high school experience what it has been (thus far). While my overall high school experience has had its serious highs and lows, DECA has been one of the only things that has been a constant source of support and confidence for me.
Before even considering the outcomes or the terrible worst case scenarios in my brain, my passion for this organization overtook me, and I simply picked up a form and filled it out. That was that. I was running for president, and I had “shaken it up.” And boy, did I shake things up. I spent hours making my posters, perfecting my speech, creating a facebook group, writing my plans for the chapter, making candy bags; you name it, I did it to the best of my abilities! And then I lost. When people say that something felt like a punch to the gut, I’d never really understood how literal that could be. I legitimately felt a deep pain in my stomach. Frankly, I was shattered.
However, the fact that I lost has no effect on the magnitude of my action. I gave myself a gift. I gave myself the vote of confidence I needed to pursue something I had only dreamed about doing since freshman year. While initially the question, “How have you shaken things up in your community?”, sent me into a tizzy, it prompted me to do something that, at the time of writing, I am still incredulous I went through with. I ran a fantastic campaign, I gave it all I had in me, I worked tirelessly and with a zealous energy that I’d thought I lost in myself. This current school year has been one of the most trying years of my life (thus far) and I’ve stared rejection right in its ugly face, and I’ve banged out failure after failure. When it seemed as though I couldn’t possibly be willing to bear another loss, I decided, filled with wild optimism and diminished jadedness, that if I put my heart on my sleeve I’d be able to win. And, when I found out I didn’t, it sucked. God almighty, did it suck. I cried a bit (a lot), my mom made me a cup of tea, and I went to bed. But I woke up the next morning. And I did it again, and again, and again. While initially all I felt was humiliation, I have since moved on. Now I feel proud. Proud of my resilience. Proud of my peers who also had the courage to put their asses on the line. Proud of me. Because, at the end of the day, with every door that closes, you have to believe a new one opens. You must know that for every no, there will be a yes. For every rejection, there will someday be acceptance. For every failure, a success. If you don’t believe in that simple truth, what can you believe in? Shake it up.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.