How to lose a student election.

You get the email alerting you to all the winners, and realize with a thudding in your heart that your name isn’t the one under your category.

You sit (you are suddenly very aware of all of your appendices and your limbs posed as if reply to the email in capital letters). You breathe (you feel your lungs draw and release).

You feel your focus narrow in on the dark arial font on your Gmail account.

You feel ice slide into your gut and feel a sudden overwhelming desire to leave, go anywhere else.

You go to the bathroom.

You stare at yourself in the mirror in the women’s washroom on the 6th floor of the Dana Porter library. Memories of your two failed Student Council elections in high school come flooding back and you struggle with the familiar stabs of fear that all your peers hate you (you never really do shake it off).

You look at the acne peppering your forehead, stare at the smudge of dark eyeshadow that’s rubbed itself under your mirror self’s left (right to you) eye. All of your life’s failures (already hidden so neatly just beneath the surface) come bubbling back up for air.

You message two of your friends in that bathroom: one who complains about your extra-curriculars with you, and the other who does them with you. Both express their dismay through Facebook, exclamation marks and small print, word bubbles springing to life.

A short stab of hot anger pierces your heart, and the heat rises to your eyes, blurs your vision. But it’s gone as rapidly as it’s come: you find no one but yourself at whom to be angry.

There are 20 minutes to class and you know you’re not going to get any work done. You leave the bathroom, pick up your things, and without thinking, tap out words of weakness to one of those two friends.

Are you going to be in AL before class?
I need to talk to someone
Meet me at AL.

You two miss each other anyways, and you stand at the bottom of the stairs to your long Thursday class like a child frozen, fearful and lost at a grocery store.

You sit through class, sit through an inefficient and distracted team meeting, thinking of all the things you did wrong during the campaign.

You think about how late you put the posters up (you should’ve posted them a week ago, when you were there for March Break Open House). You think about how you so deeply detested reaching out to people to self-promote and wonder if it’s an area for growth (you balk at this). You think about the vague date of the Facebook event (you should’ve been clear about the closing date of the voting period).

(You hear days later of the additional Facebook messages that your opponent sent, prompting supporters to vote. You think of how responsible and how reasonable that is.)

That ever-present fear that your peers, your friends, all of the people you’ve ever met secretly hate you arises to the surface multiple times in your meeting and in your class and you feel so heartrendingly anxious that your breath seizes in your throat.

Class is over and you miss the bus to go home. Being of such sound mind, you decide to walk through Waterloo Park, melting, icy and muddy Waterloo Park, in nothing but your ratty Fred Perrys.

You arrive at home, frustrated, angry at yourself, cursing yourself for having wasted so much time. You have little time to change into your outfit for the gala, the capstone event of the society whose election you lost.

It’s hours later, and you’re sitting at a table, at the gala, surrounded by people. You feel a faint golden, happy buzz from your initial visit to the bar before dinner (all of your inner organs are still cringing after an uncomfortable encounter with a cherished first year Economics professor) but it’s dinner and you are laughing and you are clinking glasses of water with your crew (the kindly man at the entrance to the bar told you that you weren’t allowed to bring alcohol outside).

You think about how lonely you were in first year, and you consider the five other people sitting around you (people who you adore and hopefully who adore you back) and it occurs to you how really lucky you are.

You think to yourself that, even if the rest of the Arts faculty hates you (and how arrogant of you to think that in spite of many other encounters and experiences that have said otherwise), you are still so fortunate have people you consider to be friends.

You slowly begin to feel okay.

You take heart at how, at gala, two of your graduating friends (people whom you’ve always admired) pull you close and whisper just close and loud enough above the pounding Pearl music that “everything happens for a reason.”

You realize, days later, that your first, initial, visceral reaction to the results was to think of your popularity (of the implications for your ego), of whether people hated you. You realize that you weren’t running for the right reasons.

You appreciate (grudgingly), a week later, that it’s forced you to really consider and think about what you want from the rest of your university degree rather than what you feel is simply expected of you.

You feel those tingles of pleasure in your heart when you remember how people did endorse you, how you, in their eyes, did have worth and was capable.

You look to other student elections and student politics playing out across your own and other university campuses. You compare the respective scale of importance and the feelings that those unsuccessful candidates must feel and you realize how small potatoes yours was.

In all, you are so so so grateful for all of the support (all of the words of encouragement and facebook messages and tweets) that you received over the period.

You get over it.

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