In grade 12, I started looking at universities and what programs each offered. I explored the various potential majors with great anticipation. At the time, I had recently skimmed Theodore Roosevelt’s biography at the public library. I probably read just a few chapters out of the blue, but it made an impression on 17 year old Anna. With a pulpit, you could speak up for what you believed in. You could make positive change, I could make positive change!
As graduation neared, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” got replaced by “What are you going to study in university?” I proudly answered “political science!” To my dismay, the response was, “Now, what would a nice girl like you want to have anything to do with politics…?” After hearing the same feedback from several different people, I decided that they were right and I should put that silliness aside. I majored in Communications instead.
I did an internship in Ottawa and graduated university with a Communications major and a Political Science minor. Looking back, I’m happy I managed to sneak that in despite the naysayers. Armed with a degree in Comms and a load of debt from a private institution, I grabbed an entry level admin job in the nonprofit sector and I haven’t looked back since.
I went back to the basics. I listed things I value and things I like / give me life. Some of the things I like are related to things I value, but I listed mere hobbies as well. My thought was that perhaps I could transform something that is just a hobby to become a larger part of my life — who knows?
Samples of some things I value:
- Flexibility (use of time; not ability to stretch)
- Social Justice
- Doing good
Sample of things I like / Things that give me life:
- Being outside
- Being a part of something greater than myself
- Sewing (embodies productivity, creativity, and geometry)
- Helping somehow…
Next, I listed 6 side projects that I had toyed around with in the past. For each project, I tagged them with as many ‘values’ and ‘likes’ from my previous 2 lists. Did I mention I’m methodical? A new ambition emerged.
Over a decade after university graduation, I wrote “Run for public office” on the front of my journal. It scared me shitless. I’m not one for hairy, audacious goals. I’m usually very risk-adverse and take the path of least resistance.
There are countless things to fear, but writing them down helped me face them head on. I’m afraid of public humiliation; disappointment from losing; imposter syndrome; negativity from myself, others and the media; trying, losing, and not wanting to try again; people hating me; judgement of being a poor parent; saying and doing something offensive; defamation and libel against me. The list goes on. I’m afraid of these things because there is a high chance of failure that is also highly visible. I fear being exposed and vulnerable because everything there is to know about me and my loved ones will be made known.
Constraints are, but are not limited to:
- Resource constraint — financial limitations, personal and professional network limitations
- Knowledge constraint — the need to learn the process, system, application, general knowledge about current political climate, general knowledge about issues and constituent concerns
- Time Constraint — straddling work, home, and volunteer life
- Persuasion Constraint — the need to enrol A LOT of support
I went on to list all the possibilities of who can stop me from achieving this goal and it was pretty lengthy too, but it didn’t discourage me. It challenged me to turn my constraints upside down into leverages. I wrote down what perfect would look like and listed every task and event that needed to happen in order to accomplish this goal. It felt like a lot of work, but not impossible. Little by little, by completing tasks such as “learn the process”, “crazy ass networking”, and “market self like mad”, I would turn knowledge and persuasion constraint into leverages. (Of course, I’ve already created subtasks for each of these tasks as well.)
Listing what failure looks like is pretty terrible too, but no one remembers an unelected candidate less than a month after election day, so WHO CARES. The ‘good enough’ for me is merely applying and putting myself out there.
Compromising along the way
Compromise is inevitable, but I need some core values to hold on to in this process, lest I be swayed and changed for the worse. What am I NOT willing to compromise on? I’ve only thought about this for a short time, so it’s not an exhaustive list, but so far I’ve got:
- Integrity (What ‘integrity’ means to me would be a whole other article in and of itself)
- Realistic Optimism
This has literally been 1 day of thinking through this process, so I will stew a bit more before putting my hat in the ring, but hey — I wrote it on my journal, so if I don’t do it, it will haunt me on my shelf till I do. Though I’m pretty fired up and task-oriented.
My desire is not only to make a ruckus in my community, but to show my child(ren) that women CAN have it all — a career, a family, a happy marriage and more. And yes, I ran this by my husband.
I’m absolutely going to turn the constraint of being a young mother around to be an advantage for me. I think the perceptions and assumptions are ripe to be leveraged and that if nothing at all, I want to inspire other women to do something for themselves and others outside the home.