Finding My Silver Lining
27 March 2016
Last September, when I decided that I was definitely going to run for Student Body President, the first thing I did was look for my planner. I flipped through the weeks and months until I got to March 24th 2016, which was the day I would find out the results of the election. In the top right corner of the box, I wrote in tiny handwriting “Psalm 46:5“.
I completely forgot I did this until I grabbed my planner earlier today for the first time in two weeks. I opened it, with a lot of anxiety and regret, knowing I would see a huge list of things I had yet to complete after missing so many classes and assignments this past week. I turned to March 24th and saw what was due for that day. In the top right corner, I saw “Psalm 46:5” written. I opened my laptop and typed the verse into Google. Immediately, these words popped up: “God is within her; she will not fail.”
I can’t even count the amount of times I have already been asked in just three days “How are you holding up?” I appreciate the question and always say the same thing- I’ve been better, but I’ve also been a lot worse.
I’m not going to lie, it really sucks knowing 10,000+ classmates received an email showing I lost (but, hey, on the bright side, about 9,000 of them probably deleted it without reading it, since barely anyone reads the Student Activities emails). So, in case you swiped right on that email and put it in the trash without reading it, just to quickly recap: I ran for student body president and lost.
No one understands the real reason I am distraught about losing- it has nothing to do with the election itself; I genuinely am okay that I did not win. Although I have loved helping this school and being a voice for my fellow classmates, I am confident that the winners will do an absolutely unbelievable job next year and I am proud to call them my friends.
If I am being honest with myself and with you- when Noa turned her laptop screen for me to see the results, my reaction had nothing to do with the election. I immediately began having flashbacks from high school; I started inconsolably crying on her bed with a pillow covering my head. I really can’t explain post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms very well to people when they ask me, but the best way a psychologist helped me describe a flashback is that it’s as if my mind is a constant, traumatic movie reel, reliving the worst memories in my life, whenever I am triggered by a similar event. For example, whenever the song “Breathe Me” by Sia comes on, I immediately relive the moment I tried to take my own life my sophomore year of high school because that song is the last thing I remember before waking up. My flashbacks are not like That’s So Raven, when she gets a vision or whatever (that would be pretty cool though). It’s much more than that. I am not just seeing the memories in my head; in the moment, I am reliving that specific memory over and over again as if it’s happening the first time.
When I saw my name was not the bolded name on the email, my PTSD made me genuinely feel like I was back in high school looking at my computer screen in my basement reading words in Facebook messages that said, “no one likes you”, “everyone hates you”, “you should kill yourself”, “you are nothing”, “it’d be better if you were dead”.
As I was sobbing on Noa’s bed, I began thinking of every single person back home that bullied me and treated me badly, hearing through the grapevine that I lost, and getting some sick satisfaction from that. I thought of all the people that only know my name and all of the negative stories and rumors that follow it, which they heard from those that know absolutely nothing about me. I immediately thought- wow, they were right. I am a disappointment. I am a failure. I am nothing.
The morning after the election, I woke up at 5am from a vivid nightmare from my PTSD. I grabbed my phone, headphones, and left the hotel I was staying in. If you ever see me alone on campus, 92% of the time, I have headphones in. The other 8% of the time I don’t and that is because I either lost my headphones or my phone is dead. My headphones aren’t in because I want to avoid talking to you or hate being sociable. I wear them so that I am never alone with my thoughts, because when I am, they are only negative.
I started walking all over the Charleston peninsula, blasting music in my ears. I walked to the battery, to the pineapple fountain, to Harbor Walk, to the crosstown, to the bridge. 16 miles later, when I got to the middle of the bridge, as the sun was rising, I sat down on a bench and began sobbing into my knees. When I looked up, I saw engraved on the railing “you would be missed.”
The message was extremely powerful to me. I took my headphones out and was completely alone with my thoughts. Images began flooding my head again, but for the first time ever, they were not negative. I relived all of the times people showed that they supported me and believed in me this past week:
My best friend, who had no prior interest, agreed to run with me with no questions or complaints because she cares about me that much and knew how important SGA was to me.
A boy, who I had met only a few months prior and barely knew at the time, agreed to be my “campaign manager” back in December and spent every waking moment of his time to help me win until the minute the polls closed.
Best friends and strangers combined shared my posts and messages to all of their friends to ask them to vote for me.
Classmates, some that I barely know, posted the nicest things about me on their social media accounts. Others sent me personal, kind messages that I saved to my phone to read whenever I am feeling alone.
There were some people I messaged on Facebook asking them to please go on and vote and they responded saying “I voted for you as soon as the polls opened!”
1,061 people took the time out of their day to go on OrgSync to vote for me (which honestly is mission impossible in itself with how many unnecessary steps it takes to vote). 1,061 people supported me. 1,061 people have faith in me.
I began reliving all of these moments sitting alone on the bridge and finally realized how truly loved I am. I realized how lucky I am that I didn’t succeed in killing myself back in high school. I sat there and reflected back on my life in high school and wished so badly I could go back and tell my 14 year old self the truth, which is: Emily, you are not a failure. You are valuable. You are loved beyond measure. Do not let words from people who know absolutely nothing about you define you. You are strong. You are brave. And above all, if you were not here, it would not be the same and you would be so missed.
If you’re reading this and feel alone or feel depressed, replace my name with your name and read those bolded words back to yourself over and over again in the mirror until you start to believe them, because it’s true. I’m not writing this for anyone’s pity, that’s the last thing I want. I am writing this for anyone that wakes up feeling like they do not deserve to be alive or that they are not worthy. Take it from me, you are. This world would be a worse place without you and you would be so missed.
It has been said that every cloud has its silver lining- it’s the little glimpse of light or hope peaking in behind the darkness and depression. I think I have finally found my silver lining through this loss. I think this was part of God’s plan. I have finally realized who and what are important in my life and I’m going to make those people and dreams a priority- nothing else matters.
To those that supported me this past week and have supported me in general- thank you for believing in me and never giving up on me. I sincerely appreciate all of you and am genuinely lucky to know I can call you true friends. Even if all you did was share my campaign video or went on and voted for me- what may have been a small gesture to you, means the world to me.
To those who get satisfaction thinking I failed and who still try to this day to hurt me 5 years later- sure, I may not be able to say I am the student body president, but that doesn’t make me a failure. Failing would’ve been not running, out of fear of losing. I can assure you this loss will not stop me, it just motivates me that much more.
Please continue to try and push me down with your words, and I can promise you I will get right back up even faster than the last time. What didn’t kill me back in high school made me that much stronger. I didn’t stop then and I am nowhere near stopping now. I’m just getting started.
“God is within her; she will not fail.”