When I was 11, I ran for vice president of my 6th grade class at Mark Twain I.S. 239 in Coney Island. This was the school I took a school bus ride to everyday, and often was made fun of by the “cooler” kids who sat in the back seats and threw spit balls into the rest of our hair. I was not a popular preteen. Nor was I interested in student government. I wanted to be a rock star, center stage, I wanted to win a popularity contest despite the odds stacked against me; these were my sol reasons for running.
Little did I know, the girl I was running against, Emily Chan, actually was popular. I went in blindly, not knowing what I was up against. Still, I made fliers, posted signs on the school walls. My dad even helped me write a rap speech to the tune of Ice Ice Baby. The whole thing was beyond humiliating, yet I got this thrill out of it, out of being on stage to deliver my hilarious speech to the entire student body, out of anxiously awaiting the results. The whole thing was a big adrenaline rush, and despite having no idea what I was doing or why, I was following my excitement.
Did it lead me anywhere? Not really. Did I ever become popular at Mark Twain? No. Did I win? Absolutely not. Still, I look back on the experience fondly because I now see it as a practice for me for later in life.
Strangely, the rushes of excitement I’ve had lately for running my book launch Indiegogo campaign have had a similar quality. I do have a purpose this time, besides personal popularity, attention and “winning,” but I am not so prepared, there are things about the campaign that embarrass me, and I’m certainly not the most popular of people running Indiegogo campaigns.
I’ve always gotten a thrill out of being in the limelight though, however silly I may look or sound. Despite the downsides of this personality trait, I’ve been determined to put it to good use, to use the limelight, whenever I get it, to inspire others and offer hope, or at the very least a sense of connection and shared humanity. Even when I feel embarrassed or humiliated, I also get such a thrill from being center stage that it feels somehow worth it.
It feels oddly aligned with spreading a message a lot of people meed to hear. So I’m grateful I showed myself at a young age how thrilling it is to be center stage, and that no matter how much I “fail” or embarrass myself, that alone will never harm anyone, and in this case I hope it will save some lives from psychiatric oppression. Here’s to the silly me who ran for SUVP.