Writing about this experience, as it happens, makes for a very fine line that I’m navigating. Right now, as my social world expands with connections through the campaign and the county central committee, I am not posting this blog as publicly as I could, or want to, because there is a part of me that is concerned that my views and perceptions will be either taken out of context or misinterpreted. I’m not trying to rock the boat, but I am trying to write my experience as I live it, as authentically as I possibly can. For those reading this, my views are my own, my experiences are how I feel them, and I do not want anything I write to reflect poorly on those I encounter along the way.
That being said, I don’t want to temper my experience or my feelings about them. It’s been an emotional few days for me and I want to be honest about that. I felt mistreated on Saturday. I also had an experience on social media related to my canvassing that left me drained and exposed in a very uncomfortable way.
No one said that living your values is easy. Sharing them might be even harder.
As I’ve said, I’m not pushy or aggressive, and I don’t often share my thoughts immediately. That might be my personality, but I also wonder how much of that has to do with my experiences as a woman. In fourth and fifth grade, I was part of a special education class for “gifted” students. Two days a week I was in a smaller class doing special projects learning critical and creative thinking. It separated me from my regular class, leaving me ostracized and different. If you think that I found safe haven with the “gifted” class, you’d be wrong. I was one of only 3 girls in a class of 15, and while the teacher was a woman, she did not encourage the girls to lead or share our thoughts. I was often pushed to the side by the boys, unable to truly participate. Even now, so many years later, I am still wounded by that experience. I learned that it was easier to stand in the back than fight for a place at the table.
I’m still fighting to overcome that tendency. I want a place at the table. I want to be in the room when decisions are made. I have something to offer. I can’t be silent anymore. I think back to my fifth-grade self, standing outside the “gifted” classroom, tears streaming down her face because no one would listen to her and I want to say to her “It’s going to be okay – one day soon you’re going to have a voice. One day, you’re going to have a partner who loves you, friends that cheer you on, and a platform to share your experience.”
My hope is that as I share my experience of democratic engagement, others will step into the arena in their own ways, because it’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take all of us knocking down barriers, walking fine lines of respect and honesty, and authentically engaging in the world.