Not Everyone Is On Your Team
When I look back on the afternoon of April 27th, I can distinctly remember standing on center stage, three blinding spotlights glaring down on me, staring into the crowd, but no one looking back. I could hear the incoming senior class rustling outside the auditorium, their conversations adding to the white noise, but no one was coming inside. After 8 weeks of building my elections timeline, scheduling, and rescheduling, I was ready for any curveball that could be thrown at me, but what came next was something I didn’t think was possible. I didn’t think anyone would ever let it happen.
The thing is, even if you think through every possible situation, there are still an unlimited amount that you missed.
On that particular afternoon, I was in a weird mental state. I hadn’t had a stress free day in weeks; organizing student government elections sounds like an easy job until you have to make sure the schedule is perfect. Run your timeline by the principal, the assistant principal, the auditorium director, the sound technician, and all the teachers, just to have it shot down for a little issue. Don’t believe them when they praise you, no one is on your team.
I walked off the stage, asked all the concerned candidates to sit down in their designated seats, reassured them that everything was fine, and walked outside, bracing myself for what was coming. I saw the protest immediately. 12 junior boys holding homemade signs that had variations of “Takedown ASB”, “Kill Student Government”, and “Cancel Elections”. With a heavy heart and a deep breath, I walked outside to see if there was anything I could do. Let the rest of the grade in, get them to throw away the signs, explain that what they’re doing was hurtful to a large group of people. If anything, I could ask one of the principals to make the protesters to step aside and to let their classmates in the auditorium, so we could get through the speeches.
As I opened the auditorium door, my old pal Jackson stopped his protest to cheerfully ask me how I was, as if everything was normal. As if he wasn’t adding to the countless amount of heartbreak I had already experienced through this program. As if this wasn’t going to change the course of our friendship forever.
“What’s going on? Why aren’t you letting anyone inside for elections? We’re on a schedule and we’ll get behind if you keep this up.” I said to him, with a panicked look and a stressed out smile. He went on to describe to me that, even though he knew my deep dedication to the program, ASB was corrupted. With positions running unopposed, the election was undemocratic, which is an outrage, even though none of the people protesting even attempted to run for an office. However, I shouldn’t take their actions personally. I was livid. With what was going on, I was incapable of not taking it personally.
How could anyone look at me, insult my livelihood, try to take down the last major event I’ll plan for the high school, and all the while be my “friend”, without me taking it personally? He was not on my team.
After a few minutes, the disciplinary principal let me know that even though she was the principal and could easily stop them from ruining the elections, that there was nothing she could do. She would let them continue to sabotage me, the candidates, and student government as a whole. She would let them carry signs that said “Kill ASB” because it was passionate self-expression, not a death threat. The students' actions didn't matter to her, but if ASB ever walked an inch out of line, that was the end for us. I don’t care what she says, she was not on my team.
Ultimately, we let the incoming senior candidates give their speeches with only one-third of their grade present, but the election was ultimately deemed faulty because the audience was an inaccurate representation of their grade. We counted the ballots anyway, no one wanted to have a redo in fear something similar would happen again. The schedule for the rest of the year was too tight and there was no good time to have a redo, so we got our winners based on bullshit. Honestly, it’s mostly a blur to me now.
Out of every moment I spent on that campus, there was not one where I had ever felt so betrayed by my high school, a place I spent more time than my own home. I had never felt so betrayed by our administration, the student body, or even the other ASB members who were helping me out. Again, that day, I was a team of one.
When I was organizing the ballots, I noticed that one of them had no names checked, but instead had “EVERYONE’S A WINNER” written on it in Sharpie. That day, even though elections eventually ended and countless qualified people ended up in the class, I was not a winner, no one was on my team.
However, I can now only look back on those awful days and be thankful I could see people’s true colors. I no longer talk to a majority of the people from my high school and rarely put all my marbles into one jar. I think I put too much emphasis on being a member of a group when I can really just be a one-woman team with a few, trusted supporters. I don’t know, maybe I should stop assuming people are on my team when they really aren’t. As much as I hate to say it, I might just need to be less trusting. Those few days surrounding the incoming senior class’s ASB elections, I realized a lot about myself, which ended up being pretty rewarding. It just sucks that the best lessons come in the harshest forms.