In this post: politics, biking, fundraising, and television
I’ve been involved with the Women in Toronto Politics panel events, which asked why the Toronto politics scene is such a sausagefest. The first panel looked at the lack of women’s presence among those who write about City Hall, be it for a newspaper, blog, or twitter account. The second looked at the gender disparity in political representation. In this second panel, which included Samara Canada Founder Alison Loat, Torontoist Editor-In-Chief Hamutal Dotan, English and Civics Teacher Jse-Che Lam, and Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Shelley Carroll, it was these two words that struck me the most:
Getting involved in politics is not easy. Or fun. You need to be prepared to face individuals with whom you do not agree. If you plan to run for office, you need to raise money.
Councillor Carroll asked how many in the room had ever raised money for a cause, and almost every hand went up. She then asked how many had ever raised money for themselves. No hands.
She went on to say how you need to have the confidence in yourself to make the ask. You need to tell people, “Support me. Back me. Because you need me and I will be the best person in this position.” And if you lose you need to get back out there and make the ask again, even after the loss.
It means leaving the comfort of your twitter feed, and your curated network of colleagues who share your perspectives. It means talking to strangers. It means, really, getting uncomfortable.
Switching gears here….
What’s so bad about being uncomfortable? Comfort’s just comfort. You don’t need it to live. And discomfort is usually temporary. Ever do fundraising? Sales? I know when I first did both I was so uncomfortable. But eventually you rack up enough succes to build confidence, and you get use to the rejection and learn not to take it personally. Same with public speaking. The only way you get more comfortable with something that makes you uncomfortable is to be uncomfortable… until you’re not.
A friend described a conversation he has often with his colleagues. It went something like:
Them: You ride your bike to work every day?
Them: What if it rains?
Him: … I get wet?
I check the weather report before I decide if I’m going to bike to work. And it pains me so much when I leave the bike at home under the threat of rain, only to have to board the subway as the sun shines outside. Now I think about that conversation and think: What’s so bad about getting rained on while I bike? It’s been known to happen. My clothes get wet and I’m uncomfortable. And… yeah, that’s it. Truth be told on a rainy day if I take the subway I’m probably going to be uncomfortable because everyone else on the train is soaking too and the air is damp and there are all those umbrellas and the windows fog up…
Pictured: Toronto commute on a rainy day
(jokes, it’s from Michael Wolf’sTokyo Compression photo series)
So really, there’s no need to be afraid of being uncomfortable. It’s just discomfort. Deal, and move on, and eventually you won’t be as uncomfortable with it.
You could almost say that the more uncomfortable the thing is, the better it is. That is, if The Office and my new fave show, Veep, are any indications.
Switching gears back momentarily….
If you’re interested in Toronto politics, and want to meet some of the friendliest people in your area, get in touch with @Shawnte, who is coordinating Ward Auxillaries to get folks together.