I was a part of the wave of #Election2014. How exposing myself can be really scary yet worth the risk especially the older I get.
I have served on my local school board for almost 21 years. When I was approached the first time to run, I had three young children and was the PTA president at my kid’s elementary school. I had no idea what a school board was; I thought everything revolved around my local school. While I was naïve, I was also young, enthusiastic and up to any challenge. Sure, why not expose myself to my community? I remember those first thrills that came with exposing myself: seeing campaign signs up all over town with my name on them; getting the official ballot and seeing my name on it; hearing complete strangers say they would vote for me. I loved introducing myself to new people, sharing my message. Even the debate with the other seven people running was exhilarating. On Election Day, my husband and I went to the county’s Registrar of Voters office and watched the first ballots arrive. Later, my husband went to bed but I stayed up all night to see the final results. And when I found out that I was the top vote getter in the field, I was ecstatic. Mission accomplished. Exposing myself for 21 years has meant late nights and long hours, having people stop me at restaurants and stores to complain or complement, receiving threats when tough decisions had to be made, and getting lots of smiles from those I serve – especially among the students. While serving on my local school board and exposing myself has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life, continually exposing myself does gets exhausting. Especially during re-election time. It would be so much easier to campaign from behind: send out mailings, make phone calls, and put up signs. But voters don’t (and shouldn’t) vote based on pieces anonymous pieces of paper and cardboard. Rational decisions require getting to know the person or the issue. Thus, for me to keep my position, it is imperative that I expose myself. I put myself on display and let complete strangers ask questions, size me up, put me down, and pull me up. How does exposing myself benefit me the older I get? Because exposing myself has always required courage, overcoming intimidation, and bravery—traits that can be downright exhausting but also more and more needful as I age. Whether I am running for re-election to a local office, facing the death of a friend or family member, dealing with illness, discouragement or bad news, it is courage, overcoming intimidation and bravery that sustains me in these unpredictable challenges. It may not always be pretty, but I guess exposing myself is never going to go away as long as I choose to embrace living my life to its fullest.
How do you expose yourself?