Blend Not and Stand Out

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Blend not, be yourself and stand out. I lost grip of this statement while I was in a campaign sortie some years ago.

It was end-term break. I was in first year college and my father was running for municipal councillor. The campaign season had begun and they had started doing their rounds in the first series of barrios and barangays of Kibungan. Unfortunately, there was something he had eaten out there that caused a health concern; he had to take a break and stay in the hospital for like a week. But the campaign had to go on. Their party had their schedule and they need to proceed while my father had to rest.

Our eldest brother instructed me to go home and represent our father in the campaign sorties. I would be speaking on our father’s behalf. I thought they knew that I could do it and that they trusted me, plus I was on break from school. The obedient boy in me said yes. After all, I knew how precious politics can be and I also love to speak in public.

Just six months before that, I was enjoying our discussions in political science, elections, political systems and other political stuff. My passion in public speaking has always been there. And I love my father despite some issues we had before. It was an opportunity for the son to support his father.

I packed my bags and took that four-hour bumpy bus ride going home. I met with his running mates and supporters, and we proceeded to our campaign trip. Our first stop was at a nearby barangay.

It was six in the evening and the darkness started to envelope the surrounding while men and women including their children gathered inside a hall where we are to hold our campaign.

The emcee welcomed the people and started calling the councillor candidates to speak. Alphabetically. The first one, the second, the third… Now it’s my fathers turn, or rather, my turn. I was called. I walked to the platform, approached the lectern, and greeted the people. Then I gave my first ever political campaign speech for and on behalf of my father.

I spoke from my heart. I delivered with conviction. I called them to action – to vote wiser for the better.

I stepped down the platform. The people were applauding. And the other candidates were smiling, extending their arms to give me a handshake. That was a moment.

And I say this respectfully and with high regard to the other candidates then, but I’d say the speech I gave was a standout; it was not the usual, traditional and trite campaign speech. They loved it and I loved it.

But then I lost grip. As we went on our campaign sorties, I began blending in and then I started sounding like an old traditional politician. I started speaking like someone else. I began adapting to styles and scripts that were not of my values and beliefs. It was a mistake.

As a result, that passion and gusto I had during my first campaign speech started to dwindle, along with the lessening applause of the people, and the message that I wanted to convey got lost even before I spoke them out. While the campaign rallies that I joined in went generally well, the impact of the message I gave was not as strong as the one I first gave. It was because I blended in.

Maybe the pull of the surrounding was stronger than the pull of the young man that time. Maybe the thought of wanting to ‘belong’ was misconstrued as ‘blending in.’ Maybe the essence of ‘being you’ was forgotten because there was no one reminding me of it.

So hear me out today – Blend not, be you and stand out. To belong does not necessarily mean to blend in. Be you. Stand out by standing up to the values and beliefs you stand for. You are meant to be you and the community needs you to be you. Take courage. Bring in that missing value by being you.

(Chris Dao-anis/CPA/ACG/ALB, as an author and speaker, helps aspiring and young professionals become better communicators and leaders. His first book ‘The Gift of the Ordinary’ is available at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City and in Central Books in Cebu and Metro Manila. For seminars and resources, visit www.chrispoweracademy.com or email chrisdaoanis@ymail.com.)

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