As terrible as this pandemic has been, props to this situation for rewarding my one personality trait that always felt like a shortcoming before 2020 — my utter lack of vision. I’m not talking about my astigmatisms (though perhaps it’s fitting my eyesight is also abysmal). Rather, I mean my inability to imagine a lofty-yet-achievable long-term goal and a strategy to accomplish it. Some people had big plans for this year, only to now mourn their dashed dreams. I don’t tend to plan beyond “what’s for dinner tomorrow” or “at what point this week should I schedule this meeting,” so I haven’t experienced that much heartache. Before 2020 I always felt like an oversized kid for never having had any big goals in life. But this year, for the first time ever, I feel like a goddamn genius for not getting hung up on how things were supposed to be.
I did set one goal for 2020, which I managed to accomplish by August — I led our local Democratic Socialists of America organizing committee into official chapterhood. My big motivation for accomplishing this goal was knowing we would hold executive committee elections as soon as we became a chapter and I could stop being the leader. Especially after I began a grueling political campaign job in July, I could not wait to be free. I wasn’t a bad leader. I make a fine administrator because I’m detail-oriented, conscientious, and I know how to keep my ego out of the operation. But sometimes when you’re the leader, people think you’re supposed to have big ideas about the direction of the organization. Hahaha! I don’t have big ideas about anything. That’s the business of philosophers and spokespersons. I’m just a very organized workhorse.
Learning that about myself was one of the most comforting things to come out of this trash fire year. It’s okay that I don’t have big visions. I have a couple other characteristics that are just as important — work ethic and good taste in ideas. I don’t need to come up with a plan to win. Rather I look for people and groups with good plans, see if they have a place for me, and then I dig into the work. I know how to get others to show up (the secret is contacting them directly and asking) and that is where I prove to be a useful leader. But all this complex business within DSA — the factions and the caucuses and the bitter feuds — doesn’t mean much to me. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter, just not where I wish to invest my energy.
I guess I’ve come to the understanding that, for me, socialist organizing is a job I do to help win a better world. It isn’t a lifestyle or a friend group. It occupies a specific space in my life, along with my writing and my various hobbies and interests. Like any other job, I will happily clock out at the end of the day and focus on something else I find meaningful. It has boundaries. I will keep doing it, in whatever way seems most helpful, until it is no longer necessary. Given our country’s history and the current state of things, I assume that means I’ll keep going until I die. I don’t foresee any kind of retirement from work or organizing in my future. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Like I said, I’m not very good at that vision thing. But I always maintain hope that I could be wrong.