Happy Presidents’ Day week! I (Dena) hope you enjoyed your politically-themed national holiday. I put this post together because I just thought, you know, since Monday was President’s Day, you might have found yourself with some feelings and free time and thought, “Huh. I wonder what other women have done with some of their free time and feelings recently?” If that’s the case, look no further.
I offer these up not as any sort of example or guideline, and most certainly not as a set of instructions, but for anyone who had intense feelings about President’s Day and who’s wondering if A) they’re alone (nope, you’re definitely not) and B) how those feelings are playing out in the lives of others who are just as new to civic engagement and activism. And to be clear, I am pretty new. There are a lot of people, including a lot of bad ass women, who’ve been working a lot harder than me, and a lot longer than me. But, I hope they would agree that we all start somewhere, and that owning and sharing our newbie experiences can help more beginners feel encouraged. Without further ado:
- Tried: Getting Out And Getting Involved. Perhaps you, too, have marched recently. Or, perhaps you, too, have called your representatives(s). Perhaps you’ve signed a few petitions, or organized a meeting, or attended a meeting. Perhaps you’ve simply spoken up about things that you used to be quiet about. If this is the case, then you know how momentous those baby steps can feel, and how action often begets more action. So far, I’ve learned a ton and gotten more comfortable using my voice. And, good news, guys! I haven’t been arrested or pepper-sprayed, not once!
- Tried: Finding Like-Minded People Online. Podcasts, all. Lots and lots of podcasts. Plus, various Facebook groups where I can trust that the topics discussed (and the ways they are discussed) will not drive me wild with anger. Sometimes, I find myself getting lost in the scroll, but for the most part, it’s pretty valuable to see how people with similar feelings and values are dissecting and digesting current events.
- Tried: Finding Like-Minded People In Person. Attending meetings for a local group that shares my politics has already been a pretty great source of encouragement. Plus, it feels good to know that my efforts are part of a bigger, wider picture, as opposed to just being one person spinning my wheels.
- Tried: Giving Myself Permission To Read And Learn As Much As Can Physically Stand. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m really wishing I had taken a Political Science course in college because there is a lot to stay on top of when it comes to the inner-workings of government. However, it’s also helpful to remind myself are only so many hours in a day, and that it’s not realistic to just, like, absorb an entire year of law school in those hours (as much as I wish I could).
- Tried: Understanding That Not All Causes Are Created Equally. This advice came during a conversation I had a short while ago, when the topic of burnout came up. Essentially, the suggestion I heard was to hold onto the causes I was passionate about, and to not try to spread myself to thin by doing everything there was to be done, for all the causes that needed support. This was crucial to hear because, as we all know, there is a lot to be done. To put it simply, it reminded me that it’s okay to pick our battles.
- Tried: Indulging In Moments Where I Simply Freak The F*** Out. There was a day a couple weeks back when I was just over it. Everything seemed bleak. The sky looked black. The news felt like a never-ending death spiral of doom. Even co-founder Julia was having a rough day, too, so perhaps it wasn’t just me. Thankfully, the dark day in question eventually ended, and things like sleep and sunshine helped. However, in case I find myself in that dreary mental state again, I’m armed with a healthy stash of soft blankets, cookies, and good apps to block specific parts of the internet.
- Tried: Trying To Engage With Friends And Relatives Who Have Different Views. To be totally honest, this has not been great for me. Apparently, I have some room for improvement here because, like a Facebook status from the mid-aughts, it’s complicated with some of my friends and relatives now.
- Tried: Pretending Like Nothing’s Wrong And Taking Breaks To Do Things We Just Like Doing: I mean, if Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler can take an hour to ignore the asteroid hurtling toward Earth to make animal crackers sexy, surely the rest of us can make time for our loved ones and our hobbies, too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a family member to snuggle.