How FBLA Nationals Changed My Perspective
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How My FBLA NLC Experience Shifted my perspective

Certain experiences might just end up rewarding you in more ways than one.

How My FBLA NLC Experience Shifted my perspective
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Last week, I traveled with a group of fellow students from my local chapter to Baltimore for the 2018 FBLA National Leadership Conference.

If you don't know what FBLA means, it technically stands for Future Business Leaders of America, but in actuality, it means much more than that. FBLA is a national organization that gives students the chance to connect with like-minded people while fostering the skills they need to become successful leaders. The three pillars of the FBLA experience are leadership, community service, and competitive events, the last of which allows members to test their proficiency in a certain area at the regional, state, and national levels.

My FBLA story began during my freshman year, when my Marketing teacher's shameless promotion of the club, which she herself was an advisor for, compelled me to attend a meeting. I had already decided I would likely pursue a career in business, so it was simple logic that made me think the club would be a good fit for me, which it certainly was. I've grown exponentially more involved in the club over the past year, and I've devoted much of my time to the club's leadership duties and competitions.

Throughout this period, I often visualized myself at nationals as a form of incentive to perform well at the more local levels, but I always recognized the idea as an unlikely outcome. Still, the hope was there.

Now I am SO grateful for all I experienced in the past year that gave me the opportunity to attend FBLA Nationals this summer.

My school's trip to NLC began with a free day to roam through Washington, D.C., as we stopped at all the major monuments for photo ops and skimmed through a series of museums. Though it wasn't my first time in D.C., it was cool to visit the city as a teenager, having more knowledge about American history and whatnot. Despite the unfortunate rain we experienced throughout the day, it was an interesting day trip and a satisfying precursor to the actual conference.

The next day was our first at the conference, which I mostly used to study for my competitive event test, which I would be taking the next day. The Georgia FBLA officers and alumni were all extremely helpful and friendly, which served as great encouragement for our late night studying.

The day after, I finally knocked out my test, which I actually thought was relatively easy thanks to my intense studying. From that moment I had two days to freely enjoy the event itself and explore the city of Baltimore. We spent part of our days at the conference, attending insightful workshops and watching a handful of stunning student presentations.

Our evenings we spent around the city, from paddle boating in the harbor to wandering the city for a cheap place to eat. No matter the activity, I was thoroughly enjoying my time away from home, making new friends with other members and spending more times with the ones I had.

As the last day came to a close, my nerves worsened acutely as we neared the time for the awards ceremony, where I would find out how I placed in my event, if at all. Swirling through the back of my mind were about a dozen worries I couldn't quite shake off: What if I didn't place in the top ten? What if everyone found it easy? Should I have checked my answers more thoroughly?

As the ceremony got closer and closer to announcing my event, my shoulders tensed and my teeth began to grind. I guess my worst fear at that moment was my name not being called, meaning I would have no idea how I did or what I did wrong or if my studying was even worth it.

Then, the most surreal few minutes of life resulted in my standing onstage and receiving the First Place trophy for Introduction to Business Procedures. I was in total disbelief and utterly confused, so much so that I later checked a recording and realized I HAD FORGOTTEN TO SHAKE THE PRESENTER'S HAND. Which is obviously what you're supposed to do. How hilarious. I literally grabbed the award from her hands and walked off with a weirdly faint smile. Oops.

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is, I should remember to shake people's hands. Oh, and also, don't sell yourself short. Hard work and dedication go a long way, and confidence should just come as a byproduct of those two.

The most important thing is: even if I hadn't ended the conference with that surprising victory, the experience would have been nonetheless incredible. You don't need to receive recognition to realize you have value, and the relationships you make along the way are what will continue to give back throughout your life. My FBLA Nationals experience was truly one to remember, and I'm most grateful for those friends I know I'll never forget.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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