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Essay Five

Hope Barkley

I currently attend Solomon Schechter School of Westchester and just returned from studying abroad for two month in Israel. I plan to attend University of Rochester and major in Digital Media Studies and Business.

Red next to orange, orange next to yellow, yellow next to green. There’s an intricate science to Sharpie organization. Just one yellow mixed with the purples can throw an entire desk off balance, an entire plan off track. I’ve always valued organization- whether highlighting notes, positioning the pillows on my bed, or arranging my sweaters in rainbow order, ensuring proper structure and progression calms me in a rather meditative way. Everything has a set place, every person a plan.

Deciding to run for president of NFTY, National Federation of Temple Youth, an organization of which I had been a regional board member for the past year had been the logical course of action. The seeds of my plan were planted a few years back when I was considering running for my first regional board position. It all made sense; I would go from being a leader in my own local youth group as a sophomore to being a leader in the New York area region as a junior, to finally becoming president of the region as a senior in high school. It was the logical progression like red to orange to yellow. I had spent countless hours of talking with members, rehearsing, rewriting and repeating speeches, creating innovative programming, and making legislative changes for the organization, putting in almost twenty hours of work each week. I was prepared for what I was certain would be a seamless presidential victory.

On Election Day, I sat in a room with three boys who were fidgeting nervously in their dry­-cleaned suits and newly-purchased dress shoes. Those in charge were off somewhere counting and recounting the votes to make sure everything was tallied correctly, planning, prepping, and ensuring a rational outcome. As the advisor walked into the room mere seconds before the official announcement, I looked at his face for a hint that my plan was still intact.

“The next president is…”

The other candidates across from me rose and walked sheepishly towards my side of the room. The first boy came and hugged, not me, but the boy directly to my left, muttering “Congratulations,” and a huge smile spread across the winner’s face. I had lost.

Suddenly everything was ruined. The blues and oranges began mixing, and for the first time, my values of order and proper progression no longer were enough to carry me through.

It has been over six months since that day, and even so, whenever the winner’s name pops up in conversation or online it still stings. Yet, I’ve begun to recognize that my loss may not have been as big a travesty as I thought it was in the days and weeks immediately following. Though it seemed as though my own trajectory was ruined following my loss, perhaps it was just the opposite. I recognize that even without the official title, I can still continue my leadership progression in the region that I had thought was only possible through the presidential role. I do not need to be crowned “president” to create the waves of change that were in my original plan; titles do not define people nor limit the influence that they can have. I can work for NFTY on a national level and help the region in ways I choose to, and more importantly, in ways I want to. I discovered that my own value of preparation and organization comes in multiple forms-the one i have created and the one the world lays out for me. This reminds me that things don’t have to always work out according to my plan in order for me to accomplish my goals. A seemingly unwanted change of course can sometimes be even better than the original-even when it seems to mean putting the red Sharpies next to the green ones.

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