Project Wonderful

Sunday, October 15, 2017

To California On the Eve of My Wedding

Three and a half years ago I wrote one of the more personal blog posts I've ever shared with you. "To Washington on my 29th Birthday" was about the anxiety, wistfulness and almost resignation I felt at the precipice of my new adventure, my move to D.C. Finding myself at another career crossroads this summer, I revisited the post hoping rereading it would give me some sort of clarity.

I was struck by a couple of things, but in particular, how inextricably tied my relationship status seemed to be tied to my perception of own my career. I mention my being single five times in the blog post, which was ostensibly about a career decision. Even the metaphor I used to describe my predicament is a Mike Birbiglia joke about marriage. When I think about it, my career path and my relationship status have always been intertwined--in part because I tend to date people who do what I do, but also I think because of how I've been socialized to view success. My decision to finally take a break from campaigns to go to graduate school--a decision that indirectly led to the creation of this blog-- was preceded by the end of my first serious relationship. Even when I wasn't in a relationship, the fear that a peripatetic campaign lifestyle would preclude my ability to find lasting love loomed large over the decisions I made.

Depending on how you count it, I'd been thinking about going back on the campaign trail on and off since 2012. If you had asked me why I hesitated I would have thought it was because I'd always have the option to go manage a campaign but finding a healthy, sustainable romantic relationship felt completely out of my control. But as it turns out it was never about losing any particular relationship but about giving my all to something and having that not be enough. What if I tried and failed? What if I'm not as good as I think I am? What if no one wants me? The same fears that were holding me back in relationships were holding back my career.

Then this summer I found myself in a situation I had never anticipated: engaged, unemployed, and out of excuses. After three and a half years in our nation's capital, I left DC with my fiance to do what I have always wanted but been too scared to do: manage a congressional race.

Look, I know how this makes me sound. As Feminist its a trite, uneasy, Sex-and-the-City thing to write about oneself. It's why I've written, rewritten and been sitting on this post since June. I finally decided to publish it because of all people, my personal trainer. We've been spending a lot of time together lately and I absolutely adore this girl. She is 24 years old, moved to LA after a traumatic end to her first serious relationship and is trying to make a career in her chosen field happen. Her pain and fear are palpable. It hurts me to know in my heart from experience that she will be okay and also know there is absolutely no way to communicate that certainty to her. After our second session, I texted my Maid of Honor, "Thank God we will never be 24 again."

I get that I am very, very lucky. I have an amazing partner who understands what I do and is committed to making our relationship work even when it keeps us apart for small periods of time. I found an amazing candidate and consulting team who remind me why I chose this career in the first place--and I found them within 40 minutes of my future husband. Even that boyfriend, the one with the break up that spurred me to go to grad school is now one of my best friends and a guest at my wedding. #Blessed.

But it's not just luck; It's patience and experience and confidence. In the time between moving to DC and moving to California I became a person who sought out a partner I could trust to support me professionally and to be my equal in maintaining our relationship. I became a person who was okay with others seeing my imperfections both personal and professional and was therefore more willing to take risks. I got better at asking for what I need. This is by no means a declaration that I have it all figured out, far, far, far from it, but it is a declaration that I know better than I did before.

This post is embarrassing to write and more so to publish. But it's what I would have needed to hear when I was younger and earlier, which is what I strive to do with this blog. The biggest difference between me when I wrote that initial post and me today is the knowledge that even if things do not turn out okay, I will be okay.

I want to end this with a quote said by one of my favorite woman role models (Michelle Obama) to another of my favorite woman role models (Oprah Winfrey) at the 2016 United State of Women.

"I don’t want young women out there to have the expectation that if they’re not having it all that somehow they’re failing. Life is hard. But life is long if you maintain your health, which is one of the reasons why we talk about taking care of yourself. Because you want to get to the next phases in life where you can do more of what you want to do at any given time."

Be strong lady friends in your 20's. Life is coming.

Campaign Love and Mine,


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