First Person:
The Finalists

by Jennifer Gillins

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    “And the finalists for president are …”

    I thought back to all of the work I’d put into this election. I hadn’t planned on running until two weeks before when one of my teachers asked me if I was going to run for office. The idea of running sounded pretty weird—Me? President? After a while, I decided maybe it would be fun to try. He said he thought I’d be a great president.

    Just to be sure I’d made the right choice, I prayed to Heavenly Father. The warm feeling inside told me I was doing the right thing.

    I submitted an application feeling pretty confident. But then I found out I’d be running against one of the most popular girls in the school. I was scared to death.

    A few days later, the teacher in charge announced that due to the large number of candidates, a primary election would be held.

    Because of the unexpected pre-election, we had to rush our campaigning. I spent a lot of time on posters, buttons, and flyers. I put so much effort into the election. But I have a problem. I’m a perfectionist. That’s good in a way because it makes me push myself to be a good student and accomplish things I wouldn’t do otherwise. But it also causes a lot of anxiety. I’m afraid of failing. And when I do fail, my self-esteem plunges. So you can imagine how I felt the night before the election.

    We’d recently had a seminary lesson on prayer and fasting. So I decided that this would help me through the election. But I still felt like I needed something more. I again turned to Heavenly Father for advice. I recalled a fireside we’d had on fathers’ blessings. After my dad gave me a blessing, I felt a lot better. A heavy load was lifted. I was even able to sleep.

    Throughout the day of the primaries, I was petrified. I was so worried about the elections I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I passed out flyers for final publicity with the help of six or seven friends. When we were through, I realized that no matter what, I’d always have many good friends to support me and be there when I needed them most. Then a wave of warmth and calmness swept over me. I knew that everything would be okay.

    Until the end of sixth period, everything was fine. The ballots had been distributed to the school and collected. Then we all awaited the results. About 15 minutes before school was over, all candidates were called down to the office. Slowly, the names of the two finalists for each office were called: secretary, treasurer, and vice president. “And the finalists for president are …”

    I took a deep breath. It seemed like it took forever for the names to reach my ears. The two names were the popular girl and one of her friends. At first, I thought I was going to cry. But then that special feeling returned. It was an unbelievable calmness. I felt in control, and yet I understood completely what had just happened. I was even able to congratulate the winning candidates.

    A new light shone on me as I realized, Hey! I’m not a failure. I’m just closer to being a success. I finally understood the necessity of failures. They make you develop character and work that much harder the next time. Now I’m able to accept my failings by thinking, At least I tried. By trying, I know next time what to expect and what I need to work on. And in my eyes and His, I did win!

    Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff