Monday, June 6, 2016

My TeenPact Experience, Part 4

This is the last post in this series, though I'm sure there will be many more TeenPact references to come.  I hope you've enjoyed this series on what I've experienced and learned as a TeenPacter!

To end this series, I'm going to start with something I've learned about TeenPact elections.

All my life, I've wanted to be important, loved and accepted.  Doesn't everyone?  But I've realized that just because I didn't get through the primaries until this year doesn't mean that I wasn't well-liked or accepted by the other TeenPacters in my party.  And it doesn't mean that I wasn't good enough or hadn't tried hard enough or hadn't met enough students for anyone to want to vote for me.  I blamed myself for being fake, for not even trying to be brave, for being too shy.  And, as you've read in my previous posts in this series, I had made myself believe that no one would like me for being myself.  I put that lie in my head, walked into TeenPact and owned it.  And afterwards, I knew I'd done it all for the sake of being popular and accepted.

In the first part of this series, I wrote about how TeenPacters have a "game" of sorts.  When I first started going to TeenPact, I was so worried that I'd play the game wrong.  If I didn't play right, no one would vote for me.  If I didn't play right, no one would recognize me and ask me "For what purpose do you rise?"  If I didn't play right...On and on!  I was so afraid of the game that it consumed me. But the game is just an imaginary, silly game.  It's unwritten.  It changes.  It's not about popularity or being voted for in the elections - it's about having fun with suspending rules to make the PD talk like Kermit The Frog, or having the clerk read bills in a Speedy Gonzalez voice.  It's about poking fun at speaking con.  It's about debating a bill to make the state a constitutional monarchy, and amending it to appoint the Program Director as the king (and then, after Rendezvous, crowning him with a paper crown and giving him a coffee mug with The King written on it).  The game isn't an imposing threat that if you mess one thing up (and you don't even know what that one thing might be!), you'll fail miserably.  The game is purely fun and not real.  I just wish I'd known that sooner.

So, this year was the first time I stopped fearing the imaginary game.  I stopped caring about being fake to be liked, and started caring about being real.  And if people liked me for who I really was, well, I'd have some new friends.  And perhaps it wasn't just about me coming out from behind my mask and taking charge of my real self.  Perhaps it was actually my slogan that got me into General Elections.  Perhaps it was actually what I said during Rendezvous that allowed me to meet new people.  Or maybe it was so many things combined with my mission to stop being an awkward fake person and start being an awkward real person that brought a whole new light to my TeenPact experience.

All I know is that, this year, I didn't regret anything, cry afterwards, or kick myself for saying something dumb.  Like Lecrae says in his song, Broken:

Ain’t a soul on the planet
That’s better than another
And we all need grace in the face of each other

So I'm done with putting on masks for the sake of making friends.  If I do that, I won't be making the right friends: the ones who accept me for who I am.  I'm not Taw, Paprika, the PD who can play Devil's Advocate, or TeenPact President Fitzpatrick (of the #thanksFitzpatrick and #thanksFitzpatrickthe2nd fame).  I'm myself.  And that's good enough for me.

TeenPact, thanks for teaching me about chewy fruit and good-for-the-environment candy, for giving me fun memories that will last forever, and for getting to know awesome staffers, interns and Program Directors!  But most importantly, thanks for helping me find myself.

TeenPact has taught me to be a leader not just in my TeenPact life, but also in my daily life in general, and has greatly impacted me in my walk.  I recommend the classes to anyone and everyone in their teens!

Other Parts Of This Series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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