Project Wonderful

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mistakes were made

Working on grad school applications I encountered the question "What did you learn from a mistake?"

Immediately, my mind jumped to Iowa. All kinds of mistakes. Where to begin? Let's start with thinking John Edwards could have beaten Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the first place (for the record, we actually DID beat Hillary in Iowa.) Then there was Elizabeth Edwards' decision to allow her husband to run while she had cancer and after having cheated on her.

I remember vividly working on a Superman style JRE poster with a coworker and proudly presenting it to Mrs. Edwards. Can you imagine working on your husband's Presidential campaign sick, cheated on, having to talk about how great he is EVERY day and then two idealistic twenty year olds presenting you with a poster extolling him as superhuman? There are A LOT of things for which I feel Elizabeth Edwards and her estranged husband owe me an apology, but for this one, I'm sorry.

Then there were the mistakes made by others on the campaign. I won't go into them here (although they are in my essay) except to say I learned a lot about how NOT to treat my staff by example.

But regardless of what anyone else did, the biggest mistakes were made by me. Yes the chips were stacked against us politically, and I was met with a lot of unnecessary adversity from so called activists and colleagues, but I still had control over my own reactions, and I failed. I was nasty to my coworkers, whether they deserved it or not, disrespectful to my higher ups, whether they deserved it or not, and all around a stick in the mud.

I think maybe the greatest irony of this new chapter of my life is the way that I remember things. Things that I know once made me happy, I have trouble remembering fondly. Yet when I look back at Iowa, a pastime that for months afterward could cause me to burst out crying, I now have this wave of nostalgia. I made some of my best friends there. Some of my best stories happened there. I learned a lot about myself and about campaigns and in a very real way I grew up in that single year more than any other.

Looking back, I wish I hadn't taken myself too seriously to enjoy it.

One late night in Iowa I was on the phone with the first friend I ever made on campaigns, both of us frustrated, downtrodden and a little indignant at our predicament. He asked, as we often asked each other, "why do we do this to ourselves?" and I thought of the Howard Hughes quote "passion will drive you crazy, but is there any other way to live?"

Now if only I could explain this to an admissions board.

Mea Culpa.



  1. 1) Way to not mention Figgles or me. 2) I was not a mistake. 3) I miss you.

  2. 1) I am so flattered you read my blog 2) Sadly you were not and 3) I miss you too...I will have to think of a way to incorporate you into an upcoming post.