I’ve been asked several times over the past few weeks why I chose to support and work on the reDefine campaign team, and the truth is, I don’t have enough words to begin to explain the countless reasons why.
But I’ll try.
It started with a small recruitment meeting. I went, I listened, and I loved what I heard. I knew I wanted to be a supporter if nothing else.
But God had a bigger plan.
You see, I’d been struggling with doubt and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy for quite a while. I’d been told “no” by several different organizations, and facing disappointment had made it incredibly difficult to remain positive. I was questioning whether I would ever get the opportunity to use my own skills, talents, and passions to make a positive impact on the world. I wanted so badly to do something that mattered, but it seemed that doors kept getting slammed in my face.
When I agreed to support the campaign, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had read over the platform and I loved what they were fighting for, but I didn’t know any of the candidates very well. I knew only one person who was already working on the team. But I received a phone call from Codie Haddon after I left the meeting, and he asked me to join as a staff member and help him out over the final month of campaigning.
Little did I know, that phone call was the divine intervention I’d been praying for.
The week following the phone call, I jumped in with both feet on the campaign. I was making phone calls, sending emails, and pouring my heart and soul into coordinating campaign activities. I was busy nearly all the time, but I loved every minute of it.
Just when I thought everything was looking up and I wouldn’t have to struggle with my doubt anymore, I received the biggest disappointment yet. After I’d thought my days of “no’s” were over, I was devastated with yet another one from something I had desperately wanted a “yes” from. I was beside myself; I don’t think anything has upset me that much in at least a few years.
Alex Hebdon, the vice presidential candidate on the reDefine ticket, knew I was disappointed. I don’t know how, but she knew I desperately needed a friend. She called me that Tuesday night and told me to take a break from whatever I was doing, and she took me to Yoforia. After a while, all of my rock-solid walls came down, and for hours on end, Alex listened to me cry and spill out the doubts I’d been trying to keep hidden. She listened, she encouraged, and most of all she was simply there.
There I was, an outsider who had only just joined her team a week ago. And yet, she was willing to give up an entire evening that she could’ve used to tackle some things on her never-ending to-do list just so she could help me realize that I didn’t have to be defined by the “no’s” I’d faced.
She cared about me as a person. A person—not an attribute to the team that could help her get elected, not as a freshman who could be an admirer to inflate her ego. As a person who needed another soul to stand by her.
As if that weren’t enough to make me believe I was finally in the right place, the weeks following only affirmed it more. I was given the opportunity to do more than I thought I could with my passion—planning. I have played a part in making a difference, even if it’s in a small way.
I’ve realized that their promises have been carried out before they’re even close to being in office. Just as they’ve promised to do so for the entire student body, they’ve given me a voice. They’ve given me a family of incredible relationships with candidates and fellow team members that I hope I never lose, and they’ll do the same thing within SGA should they be blessed with a victory in this election.
So, why reDefine? Because they’re not giving anyone lip service– it’s all real. Charles Hicks, Alex Hebdon, and Ellis Edwards are practicing what they preach in absolutely every aspect of their lives, and I can say the same for every single staff member on the team. The core of this campaign is not something that the candidates wrote up in hopes that it would sound good to students and win them some fancy titles. It’s the way they live their lives.
And for that reason, I will live by the standard of “#peoplenotpolitics” whether they win or lose, because it’s the least I can do to thank them for changing my life for the better.