How to Come Out of Your Shell (and Dare to be Noticed!)

What would get you to come out of your shell? For this shy young man, it was competing in a popularity contest.

| November/December 1984

  • come out of your shell - David delivering a speech to other children
    Would you come out of your shell to run for student body president? David did.
    Photo by the Wegner Family
  • come out of your shell - turtle carrying a
    This wasn't David's logo, but considering how he started the campaign it could have been.

  • come out of your shell - David delivering a speech to other children
  • come out of your shell - turtle carrying a

I'm basically a very shy person. So when I somehow got nominated by my sixth-grade class for student body president, you can imagine how uncomfortable I felt. I started to decline the nomination. I knew what it meant to "come out of your shell," but I wasn't planning to do it myself.

Then thought I might be missing out on something really special. So I decided to give it a try.

You know, shy people hate to fail more than anyone does. So I was unsure of myself all the way through the campaign. (I ran against two other, popular, kids.) But I got encouragement from my family and from my best friend, Kelly, who I chose as my manager.

We had to write a campaign speech for me and an introduction speech for Kelly. But how? I didn't even know what a school president could do, especially since this was the first year our school was having elections. To get ideas, I asked other kids what they wanted changed in the school. Boy! Don't ever do that! Everyone wanted something different. One kid even wanted a new flag design for the whole country! There were a couple of good ideas, though, so I added them to my speech.

But then the assistant principal, Mr. Blake, warned us not to promise things we couldn't deliver. Well, there went that speech! My second draft was filled with lines like "I would like to see ..." and "I hope to be able to ...." I wrote that I would try to get us a shade tree for the playground and pay for it with a can-collecting drive. (The kids I talked with liked that.) Then I added, "How's about an all-school talent show?" (They loved that!) Another idea I had was putting a mirror in the girls' bathroom.

Kelly was a good worker. And even though we didn't know what we were doing, we began to have fun doing it. We got poster board and lined my name in glue and glittered it. Then I added a photo of me and wrote my slogan: "Putting you first is my goal!" The posters came out pretty well, but I hung them too low at school. The other candidates put their campaign posters above mine, where they were noticed more. And, since my posters were low enough to reach, I also ended up with mustaches on my photos.

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