“What is taking so long?” I turned to the other candidate and queried.
“I don’t know. The others didn’t take this long.” the other candidate contemplated.
“It seems a bit noisy in there, too…?” I pondered
“Yeah, this is weird. Good Luck, Beth.”
“You too, Barry.”
We were both standing outside the door to the classroom. There was a glass window, about 15cm wide and 500 cm high – but someone was blocking it, so we couldn’t see what was going on. All we could do was hear muffled sounds, and wait.
My mind was spinning: Something must be wrong with the vote. There’s not a clear winner. It’s not an overwhelming majority – whether I win or lose.
I’m thinking back to my quick speech and wondering if there was anything else I could have said. I was put on the spot. There wasn’t supposed to be another contender and I had not thought about anything to say. I know I had walked in, expecting to gain the position of Secretary – unopposed. It was “The Plan”: The EESEC Succession Plan.
I had worked my arse off for 2 years at every event, every preparation day, every packing day – even all the boring tasks that still needed to get done. Surely that was enough to say in the speech? The other contender hasn’t been involved at all. Not a single minute of his time had been given to EESEC. The outgoing executive had never seen him before and don’t even know his name. Surely, pure service, dedication and demonstration of commitment was enough? It was enough for the incoming President, Vice President and Treasurer…
It dragged out for what felt like an eternity. We heard the noise level in the room rise and fall three times. Eventually, the door opened and we were welcomed back in the room.
Throwing back my shoulders, standing tall, I felt the full strength of confidence that I had done enough. Filling my face with the genuine smile of a winner, I re-entered the room.
The next 15 seconds were a jumbled mess, as my brain worked overtime to try to process the events.
Why did I hear the word “Barry”?
Why is he getting his hand shaken?
Why is the room clapping?
Oh, No. I’ve been left hanging. What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to stand? I’m floundering at the front of the room, feeling the tears well up from my chest on the cusp of spilling from my eyes. This was not supposed to happen. This was not “The Plan”.
My smile remained, though changed in an instant from genuine to forced. I turned to congratulate Barry and tried to find where my best friend and my boyfriend were sitting.
In a comforting, yet astonished tone, she whispered to me, ”Keep it together. I’ll tell you what happened, later.”
There were three votes. This year, voting was different. Unbeknownst to those of us who were candidates for election, there was a backlash from other Electrical Engineering students against Avionics students taking leadership roles in the EESE club. Both courses fell within the EESE department and were quite within their rights to volunteer to run the club.
However, some Avionics students had previously started their own Avionics specific club. It had a completely different focus. Other than being filled with Avionics students, it also did very different types of events and its reason for existence was polar opposite to EESEC. The sentiment was … if you are an Avionics student and want to be a secretary – go and be the secretary of the Avionics club. The incoming President and Treasurer were also Avionics students – just like me – however they had contested unopposed. By the time it was my turn to receive the vote, there was a challenger. Feeling that their club was being taken over by Avionics students, the other electrical engineering students voted for the pure electrical student; Barry. Not me.
The reason it went to 3 votes:
Vote 1: A number of the outgoing executive abstained from voting, since they would be graduating, or simply not involved in the club anymore. Many others in the room abstained because they were there to see what happened – not because they really cared or thought their vote even mattered. It was a draw.
Vote 2: People who had previously abstained, now voted – including the outgoing executive. It was a draw.
Vote 3: The argument of EESEC being filled with Avionics students was vocalized – loud and clear. Instead of being an underlying current of sentiment, it was public. The room was getting twitchy about publicly voting and being clearly identified as a “Beth Supporter” or a “Barry Supporter” (my best friend was keeping tabs on this and certainly gave me names). It was taking longer than it was supposed to. Barry won.
I lost because I was an Avionics student. That’s it. There was nothing I could have done or said. I lost because years prior, I had decided to enter the Avionics degree instead of the pure electrical degree. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
It’s easy to be matter of fact about it now.
At the time, I was seething. Angry at the ridiculousness of voting someone into an Executive role of a University club who had demonstrated no skills, knowledge or capability to be there. He simply studied the “right” degree.
Simmering with anger, I realized that I was never in the running. It was never going to be mine. All the work over the past 2 years had come to nought, because I now had no position on the executive at all. My best friend did. She had put in no extra over the past 2 years than me – we had both traveled the EESEC journey at the same time, doing all our volunteering together. She would have the perks and social benefits of being on the Executive, and I would not. I would be a “student”. Just like everyone else. Just like I was in first year.
Angry. Frustrated. Disenchanted. Disengaged. Critical. Negative. All of those feelings were within me because I gave importance, and subsequently, emotion and energy to being within the EESEC Executive.... having the title. Being within the Executive was a part of who I was and how I spent my time, and I was no longer a part of it.
I had placed importance on (and centered my life around) a title where possession of that title was at the voting whim of EESE students at University. The wind changed and I had a big fall.
Point – I was never in the running. It was never going to be mine. There was nothing I could have done to win that title. I never saw it coming. The sentiment in the minds of the deciders of my fate was unforeseen.
Stop Chasing Titles.