Thursday, September 9, 2010

Student Government: Like a Fish out of Water

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a pregnant pic.
I'm not a politician.  I never have been.  Bossy, yes.  Opinionated, definitely.  Problem solver and peacemaker, it comes with the mommy territory.  But a politician that makes rules, tells other people, unrelated, what to do, and marches around looking official with gold sticker on my forehead... yeah, not me. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!  Because there isn't!  It's not not me, is all).

I never ran for any office in school growing up.  I got nominated to be class president for a week in 4th grade because my name got picked out of a hat... but then again so did the most popular kid's too.  I think I got one vote... my own.

Don't feel bad for me.  I don't care.  Not even one bit.  I purposefully try to stay away from that stuff because I just don't really want to be involved.

Then, a couple months ago, Fate slapped me the face.

I stuck my neck out for some neighbors and the RA (Resident Assistant) for our section of student housing took notice in me, my blog, and the fact that I knew a lot of the students around here.  I'm friendly, what can you expect?  She emailed me and asked me to the Area Government Leader for a few of the buildings here.  First off, the word "government" in there was a huge turn off.  And secondly, it felt a little weird to be noticed like that and asked to take a position when I wasn't even a student.  She told me it didn't matter because I was still a resident and part of the community.  She told me that the others respected me and that I was well liked.  Really?  Cool!  You never think about stuff like that, you know.  It's nice to hear that people say good things about you.

So for the rest of the summer, I helped out other residents with problems.  Became a liaison with the school over concerns and questions.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would it be.  I got to know new people and them me.

Then I was forgotten.

There was some miscommunication, my RA moved away, and new leadership took over.  And the fact that I was helping out people around here was lost somewhere.  I got a flyer last week on my door about the Area Government and something about elections.  What!?

Now, I could have let it go.  In fact, at first I just smiled and thought:  WOO HOO I escaped that one!  Then, I could have, might have even done a little dance.  I mean life is already crazy with 2 little guys and one on the way, right?  Do I really have time to play Student Government?  Then I thought about all my friends here.  The responsibility I had taken on over the summer.  And I just knew that I couldn't let them down!  Someone had to stand up for the little families that I lived around and come to love.  Someone had to be an advocate to those I know with disabilities and other problems.  And since I already kind of stuck myself out there, I knew I had to suck it up and go to this meeting and see what it was all about.  So I wrote a few emails trying to figure out what was going on, and communicated a bit this week with the new people in charge.  I conferred the info to several of my friends that live by me, but no one was interested in going with me.  I guess I was on my own.

Now, Nephi has this Little Einstein magnet set where you match the animals with their habitats.  This toy only comes out when Sam is not around now, because Nephi insists that the penguin lives in the Sahara.  Sam in his infinite wisdom, knows this to be a false belief and they fight about it.  I, on the other hand, don't care -- if Nephi wants his penguin in the desert, it's fine with me.

Last night, when I walked into the meeting, I felt like that penguin in the Sahara.  I could say a fish out of water -- but fish out of water die a fairly quick death.  No, a penguin in the desert is slow and agonizing -- and that was me at a student government meeting.  I think I was the oldest one there, except for some of the school employees who weren't students, and I didn't recognize even ONE face!  I spoke to a few of the people in charge and then I was on my own.  I stood there for a minute feeling like I had made a huge mistake.  I didn't belong here!

Then I thought of some of the people in my apartment building... and I stood a little taller, picked a place to sit down and started introducing myself.  I actually met a lot of really nice people, got a lot of information, and even felt good about participating, even if I was an old lady... maybe I can make a difference, maybe not.  But at least I felt like I represented my area in housing and gave them a voice.  Especially those to shy to speak for themselves.

But I am still not a politician, nor will I ever be.  I don't care about the positions or what it will look like on a resume.  I care about the people and families around me.  I care that everyone gets along and we can have a great experience living in student housing, because heaven knows these places bite when it comes to comfort! Sometimes I feel like the celling is getting lower and the walls closing in.  BUT I have great friends here, and it makes my time here memorable.

I don't know what is going to happen with the student government positions, they may find that I am more trouble than I am worth and that will be that... but at least I know I did the right thing by my friends.  Right?  Even if I did play penguin for a few hours... no harm done... at least for now.



Cynthia said...

There are politics in EVERYTHING in life. Smart people learn how to navigate them. Not because the are 'politicians' or they love the limelight but because there will come a time in your life (more frequently for those who are passionate and care about others) when you will NEED those skills to advocate for something important.

I am politically skilled and you'd think as a Landscape Architect and MOSTLY a Mom, I wouldn't need to be. Wrong. I use these skills constantly. Last year I used them to save the Spanish Immersion program at my child's school which benefited MANY families.

I think it's sad that we live in a society where people who give a crap about the world around them have to apologize because it isn't 'cool' to work through the system to create whatever changes you think are needed. Don't apologize. Caring enough to stand up in an uncomfortable situation and do what you feel is right is something to be proud of- even if you have to be a little political to pull it off.

Disclaimer: I was in student government as a student. I was even an elected official (though I don't ever plan to be one again).

Becky in Wyo said...

Good for you! It's good to be involved and contribute to your community.

Cammy said...

This post reminded me of when we lived in student housing. As crazy as it may sound, I actually miss our cinder block palace with the stick on carpet sometimes. There were some wonderful friendships and memories there.

As for your political venture, way to go! It is hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone. I think if I were in your situation I might have pretended I was in the wrong place and zipped on out of there. Way to stay strong and give yourself an opportunity to have a voice. Who knows what will come of your bravery?

Oh and I loved your analogy about the penguin in the Sahara!