Project Wonderful

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Type E (Or Breaking Up is Hard to Deux)

Nota bene: Don't ever tell me not to do something. I was at brunch with my family yesterday when my Grandmother asked me "You don't write anything personal on your blog, do you?" Personal? That's hard to say. I once compared a candidate to an abusive boyfriend. I wrote an entry in which I literally broke up with campaigns and in doing so covered a fair amount of my animate romantic relationships as well. It was a difficult question to answer, because for me the political has always been extremely personal. "No but I mean you don't write 'I went out with someone the other night and I went to bed with him.'" Of course not...

If you read my blog or talk to me ever, you know that I struggle with separating elections from who I am. When I look at what I've accomplished and the person I am today, ambitious, driven, relentless, meticulous, passionate, it's hard for me to divine what traits I brought to campaigns versus what traits campaigns have given me. These days, when I find myself approaching a group project with "campaign mentality" I have to step back and wonder if it's really a "Nancy mentality" that's just used to having a more appropriate outlet.

All this would be an academic exercise if I weren't at a point in my life where I have to make some choices.
Around my twenty fifth birthday I got this sinking feeling that I didn't know where my life was going. My friends were getting engaged, joining law firms and buying houses. I was in a relationship with an undergrad, didn't know if and where I'd be working in six weeks, and was squatting on peoples couches. Organizing is the only job I can think of where at twenty five you can credibly say, "I'm too old for this shit."

Now I've just turned twenty seven and, as I do at every milestone, am forced to look back and take what one of my sorority sisters refers to as "mental stock." Besides teaching me a lot and giving me the leg up I need in my career, graduate school provides a woolly cocoon from which to assess the direction my life is headed. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to get where I want to be professionally. This blog is part of that and Columbia has allowed me to make some great connections to get me where I need to go. Romantically...not so much. Part of the problem is that you can't control other people's emotions and you can't create chemistry. The search for Mancy will not be solved by a google spreadsheet or by phone banking all the age appropriate gentlemen on the Upper West Side. (JVAN?) But there's another problem: I think I have a "thing" about elections. (That's elections with an "l.")

So I met this boy (sorry, Grandma). He used to work on campaigns and I went out with him the night before my birthday. Things did not work out, but it got me thinking, I only ever really like boys who have worked on elections. When I worked on campaigns, that wasn't so strange. Those were the only people I met. The fact that it's been true the past two years as well, kind of scary.

My friends used to joke with me that I had a thing for fat, tall, nerdy guys. This "slow, sweaty parade" as one friend put it can be easily traced back to my first boyfriend in college. Maybe we just incorporate what we're used to into our taste in significant others. It's also natural to seek out people who share your values. All things being equal, I would prefer to date a Jewish guy and elections are just as integral to who I am. However, while there is no shortage of heighty, chubby men who can fix a computer, and Jewish men abound where I come from, there are significantly fewer men who live in New York City and have worked on elections. More over, the same reasons I broke free from campaigns are the reasons I need a similar split from campaign boys.

Dating campaign boys is like dating my own id. I recently learned that men and women's brains are actually structured differently. Women have webbed brains which allow us to plan, to form relationships and see patterns. For a women everything is interrelated. That's why when I take stock of my life I consider my job as it relates to my relationships as they relate to my health, etc. Men do not have webbed brains, which allows them to be decisive and to compartmentalize.You know the Nancepaign vision I was talking about earlier? The intensity with which I approach a project? Multiply that times 1,000. And, (more information from Women in Power Class) men tend to prioritize the straight forward reward system of a job, where as women find more reward in relationships. Which generally means super intense time spent together, followed by me being totally ignored for work I while I perpetually reload my text messages and try to apply my organizing skills to a problem I can't control.

Why am I sharing this with you? Is campaignsick becoming a live journal? Decidedly, no. First, because campaignsick is life through a campaign lens, and this is a real part of my life. Second, and more importantly, if its bothering me its probably bothering someone else. I've spent a lot of time this semester thinking about women and power in the workplace, thanks to an incredible course I'm taking. One thing that keeps coming up in every class is how to balance an intense career about which you are passionate with life, family and relationships. Until recently the dilemma of "having it all" was taboo. Our Professor noted that it was more common for men to have pictures of their children on their desks than for women, since having a family to take care of on top of a career was perceived as a weakness, while women who chose not to have children were perceived as cold or odd.

One of those interrelated career/personal goals I'm pursuing is to be a role model for women who are unabashedly opinionated, especially in politics. It's hard for professional women to tell the truth about what we want in our lives without being criticized as weak or needy, but it's even harder to get what you want if you're not willing to say it. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of campaignsick, ISO Mancy. It's gonna be tough to find someone to keep up with me though. After all, I have a pretty baller career going on, not to mention incredible classmates and coworkers to share it with.


  1. Great post. A lot of the things you said hit home for me. I, like you, am in a career that isn't exactly mapped out like, say, being a doctor is. And I'm also super intense about what I do, and what I do IS WHAT I DO. What I do for work is actually just who I am. Kind of like how I think what Nancy wants to do with her career is actually just who Nancy is.
    Sometimes I actually feel kind of lonely because there are no other 26 year old my age doing what I do. I own a business and my husband is now my employee. I found a relationship that really worked sort of by accident. The sole reason I went out with my now-husband was for not-so-great reasons (irritating my parents? yep.) My husband is not at all what I would describe as my type and he was certainly not in my world in any way. Because I broke away from my 'type,' I ended up with a happy relationship, now in its 8th year.
    Nancy, I support you in this! Keep us posted!

    I'm also super interested in that class you are taking! Would love a breakdown for your fellow female trailblazers. (maybe a top 10?)

  2. @ColeImperi I think of you in that class ALL THE TIME. You would absolutely love it. I definitely plan on sharing more from that class on campaignsick over the next couple of weeks! (And am obviously happy to have an excuse to talk to you on the side.) You are such a great role model for women starting their own business! Victor is lucky to have you!