My motto going into this election cycle was third times the charm, because previously, I had lost elections. Twice. For the same position. After each time, my reaction varied, but the same major thing happened: I became inactive, withdrawing from the organization entirely. Many older members told me this wasn’t a good idea, but I just needed time, which was perfectly okay.
Losing elections is hard. You put so much time and effort into developing ideas and working on your speech and platform, and you genuinely want to help your chapter grow, just to stumble. However, your efforts have not gone to waste. It might seem like the end of the road but it isn’t. In fact, more often than not, it’s the start of a new chapter in your BBYO experience. Here are some things to help begin that journey, and cope with a hard loss.
- Keep your emotions under control. It’s very easy for people to say “no emotion!”, and after just losing, it can be very hard to have no emotion. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself for a second or two, as there is usually a small break between positions. Take a few deep breaths, drink water, and take some time until you're ready to reenter.
- Assess your options. Depending on your chapter/region, and the position you ran for, you may have the ability to drop-down via nomination. Think about the open positions, whether or not they interest you, and if you really want to run again. Accept the nomination because you want to hold the position—not just because you want to be on board.
- Congratulate your fellow BBGs. Losing is hard, but it isn’t your opponents fault. You’re still friends in the same chapter at the end of the day, both wanting to better your chapter. Make sure to congratulate them, and also let them know you're there if they need any support.
- Make yourself available. I know this might sound a little pushy, but trust me. Reach out to your president, or an advisor or anyone else on your board, and let them know that you’re there to help. More often than not, board members will be more than happy to let you help out. And even if it seems small, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
- Look for other leadership opportunities. Being a leader in BBYO isn’t just limited to being on chapter board as there are so many other chances to get involved. Depending on the time of year, you could join the International Leadership Network (ILN) or Regional Leadership Network (RLN), if applicable for your region, you can start a club or steer convention, or even just jump at that one-off chance. This will help give you experience, which can assist you in bouncing back farther down the road.
- Don’t be afraid to take a break. Sometimes you can’t just bounce back right after elections, and that's perfectly fine. Don’t be afraid to take a little break, and see where that leads you. Taking some time for yourself to regroup can be very beneficial, and more often than not, can give you an important perspective.
Whatever happens, losing chapter board elections isn’t the end. Whatever emotions you feel are 100% valid, and whatever your next steps are are also 100% valid. But, my biggest piece of advice is this: don’t let losing take your love for BBYO away. Take a break or a step back, whatever you need. But no matter how “big” of a role you play, BBG is a home and safe space for everyone, and there are countless opportunities to lead.
So, next time you may lose, just think to yourself: “This isn’t the end. It’s the start of something bigger and better. Something new.”
Harper Cohen is a BBG from B'yachad BBG #252, living in Denver, Colorado and she is a twin.