It has been hard for me to wrap my heart and head around what I am feeling. The left screams – the right screams back, the left spins, the right spins back. Who am I in all of this?
I was a co-ed and a Capitol Hill intern myself when President Bill Clinton had his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. It didn’t surprise me at all - it was the Washington culture that I was privy to. Men in power seducing young girls with the implied promise of the doors they could open for them. Young starry eyed girls (me included) complied with this sentiment. Many were drunk on the access to power and a world that we had only seen through a Hollywood lens. I had dinners and cocktails with some of the most powerful men in the world, (men far too old in retrospect) naïvely thinking they were interested in me and my 21 year old opinions.
It was just the way this world worked. So while it bothered me a bit, as I would realize that when advances were denied the calls and dinner invitations stopped coming with that power broker.... but not to worry, there was always the next lobbiest, Congressman, politico, strategist or head of international monetary fund right behind him with high hopes. At the time I didn't even know that I had the opportunity or the voice to be a part of a world that didn’t look like that. It was the culture. This was how I was going to make it big. I believed that I had to be granted “access” by a powerful man since I did not come from an East Coast elite family. I was not taught to think this way by my parents, yet culture submersed me in this false truth.
Fast forward a few years, a lot of heartbreaks and broken promises at the hands of powerful men that I was in agreement with, I found myself in a very hard spot personally and financially. Then I had the realization that I was the only one who could work myself out of the hole that my choices had gotten me into. I kept looking for a silver bullet from one of these promise makers, but I was looking in the wrong place. I was the one who had given those men power. I was the one who had silently agreed to being complicit in this cultural norm that went against everything I felt inside or truly dreamed of, and now I would be the one to choose myself into a different life. And I did. It was not overnight success, and it was not easy, but day by day and choice by choice I found myself living a free life.
And how was I able to make that change? Because in spite of all that is broken, I still live in the greatest country on earth. The country where you can go after your dreams and where hard work does pay off eventually. No one bailed me out, and yes I did come from a family where I was given the tools to understand the principle of hard work. I know not everyone knows that they have this opportunity, but we can teach them. I can inspire them. You can inspire them.
SO this is who I am in all this chaos. I do not look the other way when President Clinton or Donald Trump marginalize women. I hope they have both stop abusing their star power. This issue is not Democrat or Republican as I see it. I am not failing one party or the other by denouncing this bad behavior. My job is to remind those who are marginalized to use their voice and make choices every day that match this new voice. Not just one day when there is a national march, but every day. Our world is not perfect, but I’ve been to third world countries where mothers sell their daughters for survival. Where things feel so hopeless that I don’t even know where I should start helping. We are lucky that this is not the case here in The United States of America. So today it continues to improve, because of your choices and mine, because of your voice and mine!
With Purpose- Abi