Will I ever be as proud of anything again as I am for having worked to elect President Obama?
I found myself asking that question this Friday, not for the first time, as I walked down the street in one of the giddiest moods in recent history. Of course you know that Friday was the culmination of a pretty great week for us Obama lovers (and just generally, lovers of compassion and equality). I spent the day pretending to do work, but really switching back and forth between happy crying (did you watch the Marriage Equality Snap story? Those gentlemen from Texas getting married after 54 years? I die) and a kind of heartbroken but still uplifted sad crying (stop, you know you cried during Amazing Grace).
Of course Friday and all of last week wasn’t just about Obama. To give him full credit for anything is to discredit the millions of people who work every day for a brighter future. But I also couldn’t get through the day without thinking over and over, “Holy shit. How incredibly lucky we are to have this man to lead our country when we need him most.” And then, “OMG I helped *just a little bit* to make sure we had him.”
Now, this isn’t a love letter to Obama (but I need to write 100 of those, right?), but a kind of personal exploration of what it means to do something you’re so incredibly proud of at such a young age and to wonder if you’ll ever get to feel that way again.
You probably already know my Obama story, but just in case: I fell in love, like many others, during his keynote speech in 2004. I remember kind of secretly being okay with John Kerry losing because then Obama would be President sooner (despite my dad insisting that he’d take more time) (HAHA the 16 year old is right sometimes). I became OBSESSED with the 2008 primaries as I sat in my sad little dorm room. I used to whine to my friends that it sucked to not be 22 years old, fresh out of college, and able to devote my life to electing him.
But then of course, magic does happen in this world and I got to spend probably the best summer of my life as a Summer Fellow for the campaign in Richmond, Virginia. I was young! I was hotter than I’ll ever be again (thanks for the 12 pounds, campaign diets)! There were so many boys! I had no real responsibility except to collect voter registrations! I was DAMN GOOD at doing Voter Reg!
You know the rest — I basically could never leave and I never did, even if it meant transferring schools, moving across the country a couple times (and to new apartments an actually unbearable number of times), taking eight and a half years to finish college, and putting this grand cause before my well-being at every chance I got. My story is not unique. (I mean, my personal story is, but we’re just talking our OBAMA STORIES). So many other people did very similar things and so many others feel just as proud as I do. But, like, now what?
Is it okay to say that I really do think this magic I was a part of is the defining magic of my lifetime?
A lot of you are going to think that is the most depressing thing you’ve ever read. You’re going to keep hustling every day to get ahead in politics, not because you’re blindly ambitious, but because you want to have enough power to change the world a little bit every day. And, of course, I also want to improve the world every day!
But I’m pretty okay with saying, “look, I participated in this grand movement — I gave my life for 6 years to this grand movement! — but now, I’m ready for a full life.” DUH you can have a full life working in politics or working just as hard in whatever other field is your passion. But the full life I want? It’s full of babies (mine and I guess others can hang out too), and yoga every day, and travel, and so much time spent with my boo that we get a little tired of it (don’t worry, Warren — I’ll never get tired of it), and time to read, and time to write (hopefully for money), and time to volunteer for the causes that are most dear to my heart.
Don’t worry — I’m not the girl telling you that you can’t have all of those things AND work your ass off. (Please, scary feminists of the internet, don’t yell at me! I’m on your team!) I’m just the girl saying the world is best when we each do what we love. And maybe what I love, writing about my cute boyfriend and the dumbest shows on television, doesn’t change the world. But if we all did what we loved, wouldn’t we have this perfect mixture of everything we needed?
I’m just going to Leslie Knope from Season 1 myself and be really happy that I hit my Leslie Knope from Season 7 at 22. It’s not sad to have done something so great so young. I’m lucky to have done something so great, ever.
Here’s to living the life you want and being proud of the things you accomplish, both small and large. At the very least, we’ll be proud of our babies, right?
Keep living the dream, you lovelies.