I wish I had listened to people's advice sooner when I was in 8th grade, and morim continuously told me to join BBYO because I’d love it. I wish I didn’t ignore or respond with an insincere ‘I’ll let you know!’ to texts begging me to join and come to events. The funny thing is that being in BBYO was calling my name for so long, and I never realized it. I first heard about BBYO from my overnight camp counselors, telling me how fun it was. Ultimately I never thought anything of this because I wasn’t old enough, but the acronym was forever engraved in my head. BBYO appeared once again in 8th grade, and a video of IC 2020 popped up on my TikTok ‘for you page.’ I immediately recognized BBYO and thought this looked insanely fun, but I didn’t do much about it. BBYO continued to find me, whether it was popping up on social media or people constantly texting me about it. While in 8th grade, programs were over zoom, and I had no interest in joining; I declined all invitations despite my prior interest in BBYO. Winter of my freshman year, I went to my first event over zoom. I didn’t understand it. I won’t sugarcoat it; it was not love at first sight. Once again, BBYO found me that spring when one of my school friends told me we had an in-person chapter convention that weekend, and would be tons of fun. I went to sign up and realized you had to be a member; I casually signed up for membership, not even understanding what that meant. I had a blast this weekend. I sat in front of seniors giving their lives, giving the same spiel I’m about to give. They poured their past four or five years into a meaningful and motivational speech. Lives opened my eyes to what BBYO was like, the appeals, the friendships, and the bonds. Each senior shared meaningful and sentimental memories. They shared their regrets of not joining sooner, missing programs, and not running for certain board positions, and it all hit me that it was so meant to be for me to be in this organization. Despite only attending two programs, I knew this was meant to be.
Join now. Sign up for membership. If you're thinking, why would I join? I was in your shoes, thinking the same thing just trust me. My biggest regret is not joining sooner. This is your sign. Please do it for my 11th-grade self, who wishes she had joined in 8th grade. Leave BBYO with no regrets, nothing you would change. Don’t graduate wishing you went to a convention you decided not to attend. Don’t leave chapter elections thinking, ‘I wish I declared.’ Don’t walk away from a program wishing you talked to that BBG or Aleph. After my first full term sophomore year, I ran for Mazkirah, and it was the best decision ever. Initially, all I did was second-guess myself. Should I run for a smaller position? Do I know enough about BBYO? What if I lose? Everyone else appeared to have been in BBYO for much longer and knew much more. I kept thinking, should I even be on board if I'm so new? The answer is yes! Open to learning and leading, I won Mazkirah and fulfilled my goals. No role is ‘not right for you’ or ‘too big.’ This choice has only led me to further BBYO connections, successes, and friendships; I genuinely would not be where I am today without starting my BBYO journey here.
I certainly have made the most of my BBYO experience, but I wish I had made more of the opportunities I was given before. I get sad that I have missed conventions, events, and opportunities to meet others. I genuinely cannot stress enough how important and meaningful membership is. Membership is the key to unlocking insane conventions, summer programs, board positions, and much more. Since the day I joined BBYO, I’ve only watched it shape me into the person and leader I am today. I’ve seen so many friendships and life-long memories crafted before my eyes. My best friends are my BBYO friends. Looking forward to board calls and programs is the most exciting feeling. Somehow getting even closer with your chapter at regional events. I’m part of an International connected order for life. Register, run a program, apply for that chair position, declare for the board, sign up for IC, go to every convention, sign up for a summer program, steer, coordinate, apply for ILN, make friends from other chapters, and regions, the list is infinite. BBYO holds so many opportunities, and it’s never too late. Do it now because that 8th grader who doesn’t understand BBYO will blink, and next thing, you’ll know you're S’ganit (vice president) of your chapter with only three full terms left writing an article for an International Leadership Committee.
Sidra Rutstein is a BBG from Chicago who likes Ross Lynch.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
This week's Parsha discusses the building of the Mishkan and the foundations of giving back to the community in the Jewish faith.
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