I have always believed that the world has a magical and mysterious way of ensuring that you have the tools and the people you need at the right times in your life. I am sure you know what I mean? Perhaps you have also been on the verge of giving up when someone suddenly came into your life and boosted your confidence and your energy? Or perhaps when you were supposed to give up on something – things just didn’t work out and you found your energies redirected towards somewhere that was ultimately more productive? I find this has happened a number of times in my life.
As an activist and the Executive Director of a non-profit, the one thing that has kept me going is the support of others. Whether they are family, friends, colleagues, or complete strangers, I have more stories than I can tell of times when people have stepped in and helped me and Antigone out of a tough spot, or donated money, or donated their time or work, or just complimented my work and the work of the organization. Creating something from nothing, manifesting an organization, a magazine, a book or a set of programs from nothing or nowhere is hard and scary work.
My dreams for Antigone are ambitious and grand and I fear that others might see me as small and silly and presumptuous in working to make them a reality. Who am I to believe that I can do this? I felt this way especially last year when I was looking to recruit athletes for the Dreams for Women Calendar in 2010. Why would Olympic athletes want to contribute a postcard for the calendar of a small and insignificant organization? Indeed, many of them didn’t and we never heard back from a lot of people that we e-mailed.
It is difficult to keep going in the face of that rejection, especially when it seems to confirm your worst fears. But obviously, some athletes did want to contribute and we were able to put together an amazing calendar. While it is difficult to keep going, we did – by believing in the power and validity of our dreams.
The athletes who made postcards, the agents who worked to get the submissions, the volunteers who helped design the calendar, the people who helped sell and ship the calendar (thank you Mom and Dad) and the people who bought calendars mean so much to me. These people kept me going. Their emails or support picked me up when I was tired and gave me renewed energy. Antigone could not have done this without them!
I am not sure if those people truly understood how much their help and support meant. Sometimes something that might seem so small or insignificant is the one thing that keeps an activist going, that bolsters the activist and keeps her going, that allows her to keep dreaming.
For example, I remember how touched our organization was then the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC made a donation to our magazine, or when a woman bought 100 of our 2010 calendars, or when a supporter sent extra money with her subscription renewal. These moments have made my day and kept me going!
But money isn’t the only thing that keeps an activist like myself going. Sometimes words make a huge difference. My day was made the other day when a friend of mine sent me this message:
I read your Diary of An Activist Post this afternoon and I think you should know that you are a very inspirational person. I’m someone that sincerely hopes that my children will live in a world where we laugh at the notion that women – whether they’re transgendered, gay, Aboriginal or not – didn’t enjoy the same rights, privileges, and opportunities that were afforded to their male counterparts. But I tend to not do more than hope. You are brave enough to take action – action that isn’t without costs to you personally- and for that, I really admire you. I am so proud and so humbled to be your friend.
I am incredibly blessed to have a number of people who have offered me their confidence and support who have said such wonderful and kind things to me. I try to remember those things when I get discouraged and feel like I don’t have the energy to go on.
Yesterday, I bought a notebook so that I can start writing these compliments and expressions of support down so that I can open it up in times of struggle and gain strength from the confidence others have in me. I am calling it my ‘Don’t Give Up’ Book and I encourage all activists to start one.
What keeps you going?