After repeated run-ins with the Montana State Legislature in various capacities, I thought that I would never have to deal with a more contentious, toxic, and poisonous political environment. How could it get worse than a group full of hypocrites, ignorant racists, homophobes, misogynists, and gentleman ranchers (If you don’t understand why that one is as insulting as the others, you’re not from Montana)?
Allow me to bake and cut a slice of humble pie for myself to eat, with a side of my own words. My brief tenure as a student politician had me crying for a return to a time when the simplest political drama in my life involved wondering how many fatalities by friendly fire would be involved if one fool got his way and allowed guns to be carried into the State Legislature, or a debate over whether to introduce “the cowboy code” to the Montana lawbooks.
I’ll spare you the ugly, boring, and serious details of that time in my life. They’re not important anyway. What is important is the lessons I learned from it. When I was in student politics, a load of unpleasant things happened to my physical, mental, and psychological well-being. I’m twenty pounds heavier, my skin looks like I received a facial consisting of Crisco oil and bacon grease, I’ve developed fine lines around my lips and eyes (partially from stress, partially from smoking due to the stress of being involved) my teeth partially rotted, and my hair became limp and lifeless. I became snappy, rude, and mean-spirited towards people I worked with and people I was supposed to be advocating for. I lost my temper several times over trivialities. I tuned out when my loved ones would tell their stories or troubles to me, and I told mean-spirited jokes at their expense. I was a loathsome creature. I applaud my friends and coworkers for not all abandoning me in a huff during this period, I probably would have walked out on me and my bullshit if I could have seen myself behave the way I did.
It wasn’t the fault of my esteemed coworkers or the university or any other individual person that I became this horrible monster. It was more just that the whole nasty state of affairs was a side effect of doing something I normally love and cherish (activism) in a way that was completely contrary to how I normally go about it, and in a way where I didn’t feel like I was making any real progress. In other words, the me that emerged from this was a version of myself that was frustrated, stagnated, and bureaucratized.
What I learned from this is that I have to be on guard to make sure I never let myself, my goals, or my values be crunched up into other people’s definitions or ideologies and eaten alive. That almost happened to me in the last few months, and I can’t ever allow it to happen again. I also learned that everybody has a different type of talent. My talent doesn’t lie in bureaucratic, political methods of advocacy and activism. When I tried to force myself to become that way, I warped like tupperware in the microwave, until I was twisted and nearly unrecognisable to my original form. But, most importantly, I learned what my limits are, and that I can challenge myself, but I can’t push myself to the breaking point. I know what I love to do. I know what I am talented at. I know how I can challenge myself, and I can effectively conclude that I overexerted myself this time. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be afraid of trying new things in the future. Only that I know for sure that this wasn’t for me.
What’s next after learning these valuable lessons? I want to heal. I want to get my good health and good spirits back. I want to feel good about what I do and how I go about doing it. I borrowed a method from Jonathan at Stupid Motivational Tricks to hopefully achieve this.
Why do I want to do this?
Because I want to come out of this experience assured that I am stronger, smarter, and more ready to face future challenges than I was before I entered it.
What is my goal?
To become (physically, emotionally, intellectually, and mentally) healthy again, and to apologize and move forward from mistakes I made and make it up to people that I hurt.
What are my challenges?
It’s a tall order, I’m aware of this, and it can be pretty vague. I have a more clear-cut idea of how I plan to achieve this in my head, but it’s late and I will write more later. I also acknowledge that challenges will come about because it’s very easy to get too comfortable with how things are. I want to think about how things should be, so I hope that I never lose sight of what I want because inaction is easier.
What do I ultimately want to do?
Be more educated, kind, intelligent, well-adjusted, and healthier than I was even before I became a student politician.
What are the drawbacks of this goal?
None that I can perceive, apart from the challenges to reach it.
What makes me think I can do this?
Because I kick ass and because I have a plan and a vision, and I do not let things get in the way of my dreams and goals.