I can’t actually remember how the voting worked, but somehow I got to the point where I had to do a skit in front of the seventh grade student body. It was a one-woman show involving me and a raw chicken named Mortimer. It was trained, though, so it wasn't TOO gross. I had it “sit” and “stay”, and for its finale, I tossed it through a hoop and it landed with a juicy, splashy thud on the stage floor. Then I announced that “I don’t want to change the world...I just want to change my shirt!” And I put on my colorfully crayoned “Vote 4 Wendy” tee.
I know what you’re thinking...”She HAD to have won with a campaign like that! Raw chicken doing tricks? Rapping?? It’s in the bag!” But no. Somehow I didn't win--even with those sweet red specs. Of course I was bummed out. But I lived, and somehow still managed to grow into a pretty well-adjusted adult. And actually forgot about many of the details over the years.
But a couple months ago, Olivia came home from school and announced that she was going to run for Seventh Grade Vice President. And it all flooded back to me. I saw myself sitting in Mr. Bloomquist's science class, heart beating quickly as I heard my voice come over the intercom, my brother beat-boxing in the background. I saw myself on stage and heard the splat of the chicken. I saw myself putting on the t-shirt. And I felt the disappointment. I wanted to tell her, “DON'T DO IT!! YOU'LL ONLY BE HEARTBROKEN!!” Not because I didn't believe in her, but because I remembered being there and how it hurt to lose. I wanted to shield her from what might be. But instead I held in my anxiety and said, “WOW! That's awesome, Liv!” And we brainstormed slogans and what her posters would look like.
She was an inspiration to me. She made me realize, again, that you've got to put yourself out there, even if it's scary. Even if it's completely new. Even if chances are you're totally going to fail!
Last month I remembered her bravery. And I entered a photo contest-- something I've never done before. In high school, my photography teacher submitted a couple of my photos to the District Art Show, but that isn't really the same thing.
This photo contest was open to all residents of Utah and Idaho. The theme was “Winter Wonderland” and I'd recently taken a photo of a rose that had frozen overnight. Tiny, intricate flakes of frost had formed on it. I noticed it as I was walking inside from waiting for Ike's bus to come. It struck me because only a few weeks before, that rose was vibrant and lush, full of life. And now, here it was, the same rose, but completely different. Beautiful in a new way.
In the Young Women’s teaching manual, we’re reminded of three important things:
- Most people have feelings of fear when they face a new experience.
- It is normal to feel worried and apprehensive about trying something new.
- We need not let our fears stop us from trying things that would strengthen and improve our lives.
And Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
In ninth grade, I decided to go for it again. I ran for student council to be a ninth grade senator. And guess what? I made it. I don't know who it was, but someone wise said, "It matters not if you try and fail and try and fail again. It matters much if you try and fail and fail to try again."
In fact, I think I'll start a new career as a rapper. “My name is Wendy and I'm here to say that...” No? That's not a thing anymore? I'll keep working on it.