The story of how a leadership opportunity taught me to dislike everything about myself.
I will never forget how I felt as I waited in line at the airport. My sunglasses were on and I was fearful that anyone might recognize me. I was ashamed and embarrassed to be me.
Three days prior, I arrived at the Student Conclave as an APTASA Communications Candidate absolutely nervous, happy, and excited. I was thrilled to meet the other two people running for the same position. Powerful, kind, and inspiring action takers. I LOVE being around people like that.
It was time for a rude awakening. Everything was based on first impressions, small talk, and not why I was running for the position. It had nothing to do with why I was qualified. It was my job to wander in the exhibit room and create conversations with strangers. Now, I have no problem doing this, but I am extremely aware that it is socially annoying to be approached by a stranger multiple times as you are quietly checking out different booths.
To make matters worse, I have a different personality. I have a lot of energy that is not enjoyed by all people. At this event, I was judged for being my outgoing, extroverted, positive, and ebullient self. People who didn’t really know me or care to get to know me were unwelcoming. I could tell when people plastered on a smile when addressing me. I didn’t fit the mold.
It probably won’t surprise you that I didn’t get elected. Honestly, I was going to be pleased with any result because all the people running were going to excel in the position. The results were not my problem. I was the problem.
So there I was in the airport hating myself as I stood in line at the security checkpoint. I left feeling so disappointed that I was born with my personality. I felt unlucky to be me. I came home to my supportive husband and was very quiet for a week.
Following my week of silence, I finally opened up to three close friends in a bar. Man, it sucked to be crying in a bar. I could not be more grateful for these friends because their encouragement helped me turn around and gradually start being myself again.
Am I all about being myself now? Absolutely not. However, I refuse to change myself because it is insanely false, unnatural, and makes me feel worse. My personality may be flawed to some, but it is a joy to others. I choose joy.
I now invest my time in relationships where we celebrate each other.
If you are going to get anything out of my story, please do as follows:
1. Be yourself 2. Never change yourself for someone 3. Celebrate and enjoy different personalities
... and when in doubt, go to a bar with three friends and cry on their shoulders.