The reality of post-grad unemployment is that if you don't stay busy every single day, you are likely to take the kind of shortcuts that only hurt you. I don't like lying: I've had lazy days. There was a good long period of confusion between my graduation day and my commencement ceremony. The time I spent gadding around, I realized, made me feel incredibly weak in terms of my mental health and my overall motivation. I guess I was used to having assignments lined up or some production task waiting to be completed.
As the reality of the world settles in, I have been a lot more optimistic about the variety of what I can do as opposed to the lack of task. It boils down to volunteering, tutoring and studying. First of all, I set goals for myself. I want to post something on this blog everyday. It doesn't matter what or how bad it is or if anyone even reads it. I am going to go to the gym 3-5 times a week (aiming for 5). I am going to practice being an editor by teaching and helping people with their writing. With these goals, I've been able to set a schedule for myself. With a stacked calendar, I feel more active and energetic. I want to get shit done. As soon as I started sticking to my calendar, I've had opportunities add up that line up my schedule. In fact, I am busy again. That's how I like it.
I spent a long time hesitating because I could not find the job I wanted, or rather, I could not commit fully to the job I wanted. The job I wanted was to campaign for local elections in Tennessee. I hesitated because I know it is a huge risk for my career as a journalist. For some time, I was in the interview stages of jobs and it held me back from diving in fully, but it's crazy how the world works. Getting rejected from jobs has been oddly relieving. It means I can focus on my community. I fit in journalism because I love talking to people about their concerns and ideas for solutions. Campaigning has given me that in a unique way. Now I talk to my fellow Tennesseans and have long conversations about how the state runs and how we can tweak outdated laws. As a matter of fact, I feel as if these conversations are bringing my personal biases more towards the center, better positioning me for a job that demands fair reportage.
After spending five years in New York City as a student surrounded by a dominant school of thought, my time canvassing in Tennessee has been crucial in two ways. I am able to better humanize people with different opinions a lot easier than when I was in an environment that so easily villianizes Southern thought. I am able to humanize the 'liberal media' to my neighbors through respectful discussion and conversation. I make it clear that I lean left, but I also make it clear that I want to know what they think and why. I really am trying my best to be fair and centered. I actually stopped telling people who to vote for because that is my least favorite thing to do. Rather, I am talking to residents about their issues and beliefs. As I've done this, I've realize that Tennesseans really want a lot of the same things. Everyone wants better education, a strong economy, improved healthcare. Veterans from the left and right complain about the VA's office. Old folks who think Obama was not American want healthcare reform just as much as those who think Trump is killing babies. At least in my city, party loyalty seems limiting and shortsighted. More than a handful of folks said that if there were no letters by the candidates' names, D or R, they would pay more attention to who is running and what they're saying.
It almost feels as if I am not affiliated with a party, rather I am an independent journalist who leans left but is trying to center myself through speaking with a variety of people in my community. I never thought that campaigning for Democrats would make me more understanding of Republicans, but honestly, I am happy that it is. These conversations are giving me hope that America can come one step closer to unity. They also fill the gap on my resume. More to come. Tomorrow I will write about my conversation with a member of the Alt-Right. A self-described Nazi.