The Rest is Still Unwritten

I never really understood what Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” meant until this week. After a year of dedicating myself 24/7 to a single entity known as DECA, I realized this week that I’m staring at the back end of only a few chapters of my life, with so many more blank pages to go.

Last October, I attended the Texas DECA State Board meeting to gain approval to run for National DECA President. Over the summer, after watching our former State President, Jordan, serve members in his title of Southern Region Vice President, I decided I wanted to give back to an organization that has given me so many opportunities over the last 3 years. And, by the grace of God, I was approved.

National DECA is presided over by five national officers – President, and four regional Vice Presidents – as well as DECA Inc., the adult staff in Reston, Virginia. Originally, I considered running for SRVP, like Jordan. But then I realized something – I had the strengths it took to be National President. As a Chapter and State Officer, I was already advocating to law makers, speaking publicly about what amazing work DECA does, and working with Association Officers from all around the world, so why shouldn’t I apply those skills to help the National level of an organization that has given me so much?
Fast forward a few months, and my platform, “Create Connections” was coined. I had my basic outline, my plans, and I knew what I wanted to giveaway. As a delegate at ICDC 2012, I knew how much useless stuff I got that gave me absolutely no information about the candidates other than that they could smile for a camera. Around Christmas break, I really began to examine my motives as to why I wanted to run for National Office. What could I do for the organization? Why should delegates vote for me, as opposed to the other (6, I discovered) candidates? All of the answers to these questions raced through my head as myself and my team prepared for State in February.
Myself and my team (VP Scott, President Kate, Sgt. Caleb) with CEO of Tri Leadership Resources and one of my heroes, Ryan Underwood.
One of my favorite pictures from state – with our former State President and Southern Region Vice President (National Officer) Jordan (Jay) Robinson, who also happens to be one of my best friends.

State was the kick off point. My time as a State Officer was coming to an end, and I bawled with my team backstage as we said our final farewells to an association that has pretty much been our lives for the last year. Before then, it didn’t feel real. Telling people “Oh, yeah, I’m running for National Office” didn’t seem signifigant until there were meer weeks left. Then, I went into panic mode. It didn’t really hit me until the week after SCDC, when I was taking my officer exam and sending off my application, that this was it. This is what I’d been preparing for since last summer.

I flew out to Orange County a few days before my team with my mom, and we stayed in Huntington Beach, right on the water.

I firmly believe in always traveling looking presentable. The better you look, the better you get treated.
The Saturday I left was also my 6 month-aversary with The Boy, Adam.

We were able to do all the things that everyone else wanted to do on the trip, before my teammates and chapter members got out to LA.

Chillin with my homegirl Merida at Disneyland
I got the weirdest looks for wearing these around the park. I mean the glasses. Not the pants.
After spending the morning at Disney, we spend the afternoon at the beach!
But when my team got in town, the real work started. Wednesday, I went in for my candidate interview with the nominating committee. I could not schedule caucus (meetings with the voting delegates from each state) appointments until I was announced as an “official candidate” that afternoon, following my interview. As soon as 3 PM hit and I was official, we were scheduling caucuses and driving from hotel to hotel to meet with each delegation.
Three days, ten hours of combined sleep and 48 (yes, 48, a record I tied for with another candidate, Ryan Mayfield) caucuses later, I finally sat down with the rest of my running mates for the voting session Saturday morning.
If there is one thing I can say about DECA members, it’s that no matter whether we’re competing against each other, trying to win something, or just hanging out, we are all incredibly supportive of each other. So when we exited the voting session so the delegates could cast their votes, it was one more reassurance that I was in the right organization when every candidate, for every office, all huddled up and repeatedly screamed “DECA LOVE” at the top of our lungs. I kid you not.
If those delegates had seen the amount of love the 20 of us had for each other, they would have cried.
The one piece of advice Morgan Thompson, the 2012-2013 National DECA President, offered us at orientation was that once the voting session was over, we needed to begin mentally preparing ourselves to loose. However morbid this may sound, I think in the end it better prepared me for the final outcome of the election. I started thinking of what I would do if I loose – what my plans would be for the summer, for next year. Florida with The Boy. Getting a part time job. Finishing my novel. UNT in the fall with SRVP Jordan. Didn’t sound to bad for me. So when I sat down at the Grande Awards Session Saturday night, I was prepared for whatever the outcome – whether they called my name or not, I knew what I was going to do.
When the end of the awards session came, and the current National Officers began to give their farewell speeches, I literally thought my heart was going to rip out of my chest. With my mom sitting on one side, and Caleb, my campaign manager, sitting on the other, I felt surrounded by people I cared about, but I was still totally nervous.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this friendship. Sgt. Caleb and Reporter Holly, best duo DECA has ever seen!
One by one, the positions were announced. Western Region, Trevor Dickerson. Southern Region, Lexy Parsons. Central Region, Connor Brashear. North Atlantic Region, Jack Fenton (whom, I might add, makes this the first International Officer Team, as he is from Ontario). Finally, it was president. My heart pounding, hands shaking, I stood up, ready for anything. “And the leader you have chosen as your next National DECA President is….
Carter Christensen.”
I literally felt my heart drop. I looked at my team, and they were all shocked. I looked back at my chapter, and they were near tears. So I did the only thing I could. I clapped. I clapped, and screamed, grabbed my backpack and walked towards the throng of people in the front and hugged the new National Officers, my friends, as they filed off stage, on their way to take pictures. Looking back, I feel really bad for the voting delegates, because there were 7 incredibly qualified candidates running for National President this year, and to choose just one to lead the organization must have been a heart wrenching decision.
I’d made the final four in a run off. I’d set records, made so many friends, and decided I was going to move in with Wisconsin DECA (who was, I have to say, one of my favorite caucuses). Sure, going back to the hotel, I cried. A lot. I’d spent the last year or so preparing for this one moment, and I’d lost. But I’d lost to someone worthy. I’d lost to someone I know, I have no doubts, will lead the organization into a more connected, more public future.
The 2013-2014 National Officer Team
At the state meeting, I was asked to give a speech in front of the Texas Delegation in attendance. And through my sobs, I managed to tell them my DECA journey was far from being over. No one is getting rid of me that easily. In the fall, I fully intend on helping Texas DECA expand their collegiate membership, as well as continuing their efforts to build a strong Alumni sector. At UNT, if he’s not to burned out on DECA, I’ll work with Jordan and a few chapter members to start a new collegiate chapter.
I may have lost this round, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand it. To me, this loss means that there are bigger and better things waiting around the corner for me. So it’s time to take the next step, start a new chapter, and see what else this book that I call life has in store for me.
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One comment

  1. cindella204 says:

    Very well written. I can kind of empathize after losing an election for association office at my SLC this year, granted I didn’t put that much time or money into it. If you can write about it this maturely though you DEFINITELY have great things coming for you. Best of luck, Holly 🙂

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