Lessons from a lost election.

I’am not much of a politician, neither did I really imagined I would ever run for elections. But life is unpredictable. Back in 2016, when I was still a student in NIT Silchar, elections were being held for Gymkhana Student’s Union Body 2016–17, basically for the people who would be representing students of NIT Silchar for that year. The election week would last for one week and it would be intense, with campaigning going on 24*7.

I was involved in college activities since my first year there, and in three years had developed quite an idea about what can be improved. So when there was this opportunity to run for the top-most position of Vice President of Gymkhana Student’s Union Body 2016–17, after a lot of deliberation and to and fro on my decision, I filed the nomination on the deadline day. Facing a candidate who was preparing since quite a few months vs my zero preparation,my chances of winning were bleak. Even though I gave it all I had, it wasn’t enough. I lost those elections ,but in the process learnt quite a few lessons.

  1. Eye-opener :- In that one week, a lot of activities happened , lot of things said ,rumors flew, people got involved that it was bound to change me in one way or another. The first and most important advice that I got was “There will be a lot of things that are going to be said about you , listen and ignore , do not fret about them.” A very good advice indeed. It opened my eye though, about how easy it is to become comfortable in your bubble and never even realize it. In my 3 years in college life got to know so many people and I always though I know people, I used to be busy from morning till evening, but never really went out from one set of activities. I could have learnt so much more and met so many new people, better late than ever. Lesson learnt.
  2. Karma is a bitch :- I found this saying so apt during the election time. It’s a time when your deeds come to help or haunt you, and not just yours, your friend’s deeds as well, their good relations become your good relations and their bad relations become your bad relations. You’ll find people who will hold a grudge against you for something so minuscule that you won’t even remember it. You would realize there are so many incidents, most of them being unintentional. People can be angry from you for not knowing them! Mind it.
  3. You get a chance at redemption :- Being young and hormonal, you are bound to make stupid or irrational decisions,especially in college, actions that you will later feel guilty about, or you’ll not be particularly proud of. A lot of such decisions get buried in time. Elections provide an excellent chance of redemption on them. You have grown wiser and some wounds have been healed with time, elections will remind you about those decisions and let you apologize and even find a solution for them.
  4. Gratitude :- Probably the biggest lesson that I learnt was how lucky I am to have friends. It’s never just “you” who runs in an election, it’s “us”. They would leave whatever work they have,be their placement preparations or doctor’s appointment all of that work was put on a back seat and they started helping. In that elections,my friends worked harder than me.Even those who were not in college with me kept asking about all the updates.During elections, I spent all my time with my friends, we slept together or rather had no sleep together. There were some friends who helped on their own, without me ever reaching out to them. There were some friends who hated the election, but they got involved just for me.I made new friends and rebuilt some broken ties.There were some friends who even fought for me and put their own reputation on risk for me and that is invaluable. I was filled with gratitude and I got to know who my real friends were.
  5. Loss :- The opposite is true as well.Everyone involved in election will have to take difficult decisions, choose sides and that would lead to some friends whom you no longer have the same friendship with, where the hate would become too much to go back from . There would be some relations that would not be repaired and that is the worst part of elections.
  6. Attention :- When you would come back to your room exhausted from a whole day of campaigning, and open your social media accounts, and you see people talking about you, supporting you and even hating you! All of it is so overwhelming. Being at the center of attention for so many people. Wherever you walk, you would always have eyes on you, people listening to every word you say and how you say it. It is unnerving and exciting at the same time. All that attention comes at a great price and you have to responsible for every action that you take.
  7. People :- In the end , elections are all about people, what people think and what they want. What are their biggest fears. All the best politicians are masters in exploiting them. Elections are often the best way to find out what are the innermost thoughts and biases of the people participating in election. Sometimes, even they would not know that they are affected by that bias and they come to such realizations during elections. No matter what agenda you take out, what your plans are, if you do not play to their bias, it is extremely difficult to win elections. This helped me in understanding that politicians are not bad, they simply are the reflection of our worst fears and bias.
  8. Loss Hurts… BAD! :- When the result came out and I got to know I lost. I was devastated. I cried the hardest I remember in time as long as my memory serves me. It took me quite a long time to overcome what was going through my mind, everyone I was looking at, I kept on thinking if they voted for me? No matter how hard I tried, whenever I looked at the people who did not vote for me, it would leave a bitter taste in my mouth. It took me a long time to overcome the majority to those feelings, even after a year, those feeling haven’t subsided completely.
  9. It’ll pass :- After the elections storm is over, most of the things get back to normal, sure there are some changes, you would be a subject of humiliation a few days, but after some time, people would forget it and you can go back to being you again. Sure, the fact you stood up and lost in elections will not be forgotten, especially if you lost by a small margin, but you’ll get over it and it won’t matter in your life anymore.
Poster for my election campaign

I started writing this article some year ago, and today, after more than 1 year I am finishing it.This also shows that it was not easy for me to write about it. Though what I can say after more than one year of losing the election is how little it matters to me now,once that I am out of my college and working now. I learnt a lot by running for the post of Vice President of Gymkhana Union Body 2016–17. Even though I lost, it’s something I am proud of. I have this belief that by losing this election, I won something bigger in life. I got a year to focus on myself and learning what I was avoiding since last three years. I worked an product , and not that product is the core of a fledgling start-up.

Looking back when I think if it was advisable to run in the election? I would say yes, I would but only with proper preparation, for the loss hurts bad and you should prepare yourself properly to win. There are new set of challenges in life and the diplomacy I learnt by being a politician for a week is always helpful. Plus it becomes a source for great stories. Plus I get to give some great advice like “There will be a lot of things that are going to be said about you , listen and ignore , do not fret about them.”

If someone who witness these elections or was a part of these elections, I would like to say thank you. It definitely was a week worth experiencing. Good Game, Well Played.

Cheers.

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Aklank Jain

Aklank Jain

Experimenter at heart and Software Engineer by profession.Part time extrovert and full time introvert, I am someone who will grow on you.