Running for School President Taught Me to Fake It ‘Til I Make It
When I was 11 years old, my prepubescent self thought it was a fantastic idea to secure a position as 6th grade representative in our school’s student council. I would turn my campaign speech into a song. And not just any song—a One Direction song. So when the day came, I walked up to the podium and sung my heart out to the newly written lyrics of “That’s what makes me a good student rep.” I knew I could do it, because the idea of me not being able to do it had never occurred to me.
Needless to say, I won the election, and promptly fell in love with student council. How often does a young girl like me get to incur change in my own community? I had ideas, and I made them happen that year, as well as the next year, when I was elected secretary. Our council got really tight-knit and I knew leadership was what I was meant to be doing.
When this year rolled around, and the opportunity to be elected student body president of over 400 kids presented itself, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run. I knew I was well-liked, but I wasn’t “popular.” Suddenly my fear of failure almost prevented me from doing what I love most. “But what if I lose?” echoed throughout my brain, because imagining a year without student council, and the friendship and security it provided, seemed impossible. It was easier to just not try at all than to run and campaign and fail in front of all my peers.
But then, inspiration and hope struck in the form of an Instagram post. A quote by John Burroughs, “Leap, and the net will appear.” So I decided to leap. I left behind everyone who was telling me I shouldn't run because “I couldn’t win” and went to the one person who always believed in me: my best friend, Caroline, who signed on to become my vice president. Even though I had serious doubts, we started writing and campaigning the very next day.
We handed out cookies and donuts, plastered the school with punny posters, and rehearsed our speech until we had it down pat. But then, just like in 6th grade, the day came for me to step up to the podium. Unlike when I was 11, however, it took a lot to get myself up there; I had suddenly never felt less sure of myself. So, I decided to fake it and delivered my speech with a big smile and a power stance. I had never been more nervous or self-conscious in my life, but by using body language and my tone of voice to project an air of confidence, I made it through that speech.
And I won. Not only did I win, but Caroline and I knocked it out of the park with our majority. This year, being able to say I am student body president is one of the things I am most proud of. Not because of the title or the control it brings, but because of how much I grew in that moment and over the year. I spoke publicly at every assembly and learned that even when you are shaking in your boots in front of everybody, projecting confidence, even if it is faker then Kylie Jenner’s lips, is really powerful.
Last week, a girl in our grade came up to me. She told me, “Natalie, I wish I had your confidence.” Those seven words struck me deeply. I realized that even though I had been faking it for so long, I finally was truly confident. I believed in my ability to achieve what I wanted to achieve and be the leader I knew I could be. My insides finally matched my outside. And at our last assembly, I spoke loud and proud, and I didn't feel a single butterfly.
I still have to pretend I'm confident sometimes. You certainly don’t have to be confident all the time, but showing the world you are—even if you have to fake it—is a great way to get there. So put on that power stance, and that big smile, and show the world you love yourself like Kanye loves Kanye.
Redefine confidence for yourself. Not everyone is always as confident as they seem. Everyone has to fake it sometimes, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll get there eventually, I promise. But until then, fake it 'til you make it.
By Natalie Keim, 14