This week I had the opportunity to speak with the Midland Democratic Party at their monthly in-person meeting (first one since COVID!). Allow me to let my guard down and admit that this most likely constitutes my first political "speech" ever and the one that kicked off the run to the primary.
I was wracked with nerves. It didn't matter if this speech was for 5 people or 500. I thought about, re-thought about, wrote down, and re-wrote down all sorts of ideas. How long should I talk? What if it's too short? What if it's too long? What if all I accomplish is making myself sound like I'm in way over my head? I don't share these moments of self doubt to elicit pity or empathy but rather to help show that we all have these thoughts and issues and can overcome them.
I left work that night and drove to the meeting, saying out loud in the car what I thought I was going to say, self editing all the way from Saginaw to the Midland County building. I have to say, the Midland Democrats have been nothing but welcoming and helpful since I officially joined the party. This isn't to blow smoke (no pun intended given my line of work), just to highlight how amazing they have been and to show my appreciation.
When I sat down and looked over the schedule for the meeting, I saw my name and had a mini panic attack. It was real. THIS was real. Time to show up or show out, I guess. At least that's what I told myself to calm myself down. When the time came for me to speak, I was still nervous but was ready to go and give it my best. The speech was nothing special - just a basic introduction and light background on myself. I would consider it the very stripped down and quick version of what I'm preparing for my first official campaign event next week. Overall, the speech went well and was probably extremely uneventful for those that saw it - but their attendance and kindness meant the world to me.
I think there's a lesson in there about putting yourself out there and taking chances. And yeah, I stumbled over a couple words and said "um" way more than I'd like (sorry to Mr. English, my 9th grade speech teacher, I reverted to my old vocal crutch), but overall it was painless and seemed to be well received. I felt relief, I felt happiness, and I felt like I had done something that was outside of my usual comfort zone and it excited me.
I like to think of the urge to be involved in politics and help people as a flame in myself. Moments like that speech scare me, but during and afterwards I feel that fire inside heat up. That flame grows, slowly but surely, and tells me that I'm doing the right thing. The flame inside me is growing stronger and more confident day by day, and this Wednesday went a long way in helping that. Don't ever be afraid to put yourself out there. Even if I completely botched the event and embarrassed myself, I could still be proud of taking a chance and learn a valuable lesson (in that imagined instance, I suppose the lesson would be DON'T TRY AND GIVE SPEECHES, which thankfully wasn't the takeaway this time).
I'm supremely excited for next Saturday and my first campaign event. I've written, re-written, edited, corrected, and everything else under the sun to prepare for this speech. Maybe it will go well, maybe it won't. Maybe no one shows up. But regardless of the result, I will remain steadfast and dedicated to this campaign. I hope you all join me along the way.