Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Christopher Hunt, 2018 International Officer candidate and 2018-19 president of the Omicron Beta Chapter at Mesa Community College in Arizona.
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant in America, you know what comes at the end — the Fortune Cookie. We often make fun of the fortune that’s on the cookie, but every once in a while, we come across a fortune with a meaning that stands out far above anything else we’ve gotten before. This is what happened to me.
A single line of words. Five of them to be exact: “Yes. Do it with Confidence.”
How often do we doubt ourselves when an important decision comes along? How often do we back down and decide against something because we are unsure of the outcome? If you’re anything like me, it happens all the time. But because of this one fortune, I have changed my outlook on life in ways I never would have imagined.
I immediately think of those words when I start to doubt what I want to do. If I am anxious about something, I remember those words. When I think about taking a leap of faith and going for something with a large payoff but little chance of getting it? “Yes. Do it with Confidence.”
Before I got this fortune, I spoke with Past International Officer Alexa Greer at the Arizona Regional Convention. It was there that my decision to run for International President was made.
I attended PTK Catalyst 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee, and looked at the candidates’ campaigns, listened to the speeches, and cheered proudly for those who were elected as officers. I was more determined than ever to run for office.
Over the next few months, however, I thought about whether I wanted to be International President or International Vice President of Division IV. I kept questioning the difference between the two positions and wondered what the job duties were for each, but Past International Officer Jay Fritts told me to figure out my “Why” before trying to figure out the “What.” Why did I want to be an officer? Why was this so important to me? Why did I feel I could serve in this great leadership position?
These questions got me thinking about my goals and my plans for the future. I wanted to be an International Officer to make a difference and give back to the organization that I loved and cared about so much. Phi Theta Kappa changed my life in several ways. The title wasn’t important — I decided to run for Vice President.
From there, I planned everything out, chose a campaign manager, talked with my team and my college, prepared my speech with a couple of faculty members, and was ready to campaign. I gave my campaign a trial run in a bid for Arizona Regional President. In the end, I was not elected, but I kept my hopes up.
I had been planning and preparing for PTK Catalyst 2018 in Kansas City for a year. I was ready to run for the position and knew what I wanted to say. I campaigned at my booth as much as possible throughout Thursday, answered questions to the best of my ability during the Live Candidate Caucus, and stayed up late Thursday night preparing to give my speech the next day.
On Friday, I appeared on stage with all the other candidates. When I returned to my region, I sat there clutching the hands of my campaign manager, ready to be bombarded with cheers and applause. Finally, Tasha Estein, the then-International Vice President of Division IV, stepped up to announce the finalists and, as she did, my name was not called. My campaign was done. My one chance at being an international officer had slipped away from me.
After the general session, I went back to my hotel with my campaign manager and let the tears flow. When you work on a project for a year and prepare to serve in this tremendous role, it hurts when that is no longer a possibility.
I initially thought about ignoring the rest of the convention — I didn’t want anything more to do with it — but I knew how foolish that was. For about two months prior to the convention, I had been getting to know the other candidates. These people were my friends, and several of them were now preparing to give their speeches. Sure, I was sad, but I had to go support them and move on.
As the convention continued, I had people tell me that my campaign was wonderful and that they truly believed in my message. But even better was what I found at my campaign booth. I had asked people to write their names on puzzle pieces to be added my booth. In the end, of all the people who attended PTK Catalyst, 495 came to my booth and added their name. That astonished me. This was my takeaway, what made it all worthwhile.
A week later, I was elected president of the Omicron Beta Chapter. I was glad to serve in that role and help my chapter grow and succeed, but it was bittersweet. I had run for regional office and was not elected. I had run for international office and was not elected. By being elected as chapter president, I worried I was settling for what I could get at that point — this was the highest I would go as far as student leadership in Phi Theta Kappa.
I went back to my fortune. “Yes. Do it with Confidence.” My views on my new position were holding me back. I was held up in the past, stuck on the positions that were no longer available to me. And so, I made the commitment to move forward.
Regional and international office were out of my grasp, so I bolstered my confidence in what I could do. I was elected to serve my chapter as president, and I was proud of that. Of my chapter’s 15 officers, only one is elected to serve as president every year. I was that person and had to move forward in order for the chapter to succeed.
“Yes. Do it with Confidence.” Those words are powerful. Think of them when you face a decision that might be causing you doubt or holding you back. It may not work out in the way you had initially planned, but that’s okay. Past International President Yanik Etan said it best: “Five years from now, you don’t want to be that person who says ‘Man I wish I had done this.’ Instead, you want to be the person who says, ‘Thank goodness I did this.’ So, I dare you to take advantage of everything Phi Theta Kappa has to offer.”
No matter the number of candidates, only five people will be elected as International Officers, and only 10 people will be finalists. The takeaway is different for each person. It may not come right away, but give it time, give it some thought, and give it your all. And no matter what you decide to do in this world, remember to do it with confidence.
The 2019-2020 International Officer Candidate Packet is now available! Download yours today. The deadline to apply is February 13, 2019.