If I call my family or best friends on the phone, they usually answer with a panicky “IS EVERYTHING OK?” This is because I do not like talking on the phone. I hate it. Once, my voicemail was borked for like 6 months, and I didn’t realize it. I was just delighted that everyone had finally realized that texting is my love language and stopped calling me.
But, my kids recently started preschool, and I signed up to volunteer for the Hillary Clinton campaign in my newfound free time. And you know what they needed me to do? Phone bank. Yep. I go in, and they hand me a flip phone and a list of names to call. Thank God they’re at least people who have supported Democrats in the past, because getting yelled at by Trump supporters on the phone isn’t something I want to deal with– seeing them pop up in my Twitter mentions is bad enough.
So yeah, twice a week, I go do a thing I utterly hate. I actively dread it before I go. But I push through the awkwardness and anxiety because I think winning this election (and electing Democrats to the House and Senate) is SO IMPORTANT. I want to be able to tell my kids one day that I did everything I could to stop Donald Trump and elect our first woman president. The idea of a Trump presidency gives me actual nightmares. Knowing that I’m helping stop it helps me sleep at night.
Do you have any free time at all? Does the idea of a Trump presidency scare you? Then push through the awkwardness with me and sign up to volunteer. Go to hillaryclinton.com, click ACT up top, and sign up. An organizer will contact you (mine’s an awesome guy named Cortrell) and get you signed up to do whatever you can in whatever time you have. You might end up phone banking. You might register voters. You might canvass your neighbors. You might do data entry. But you’ll be helping America avoid a Trump presidency, and that is a BIG FREAKING DEAL. It’s worth doing, even if the idea of calling strangers on the phone makes you break out into a cold sweat. We can do this. After all, we’re #StrongerTogether.
My friend Amy once said that she can’t be friends with people who don’t have at least one of the following: a job, a marriage, or kids. I joked that, as an unemployed grad student, I better hang on to my man so we could keep being friends. I guess I better keep working on my marriage, because after 6 months of unemployed grad student life, my husband and I have decided that I’m not actually going to be getting a part time job soon.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that being able to do without a dual income is a luxury. I have a BA in English and political science, and while I often joke that this means I’m basically qualified to answer phones for a living, it’s actually mostly true. Meanwhile Jon is a doctor in a fellowship, and while his salary is not yet one of those ridiculous doctor’s salaries, he has the ability to pick up moonlighting work at an hourly wage I’d get only if I started selling my body on the street. He can make in one day on a moonlighting shift what I’d make in 10 days if I picked up a MWF gig. I still can’t believe anyone is willing to pay him that much to do anything, but I’m totally grateful that he can pick up extra work and make up for the lack of me having a steady income.
While our budget is certainly tighter than it was when I had a full time job and wasn’t in grad school, we’ve finally figured out how to live within our new means. And while right now we don’t have the money to give all the awesome causes we care about the support we wish we could, we’ve realized that I do have one very valuable thing: time. I have the ability to really give my time in ways that are more valuable than what I’d be doing if I got a p/t job: working retail for $10 an hour. I’m super excited about it.
This means I can spend entire afternoons volunteering at homeless shelters, or drive my friend McKinley to job interviews, or offer babysitting services to friends who really need it. Our church is currently dreaming of rehabbing a new space and starting an urban garden, and, with years of weed-pulling in my parents’ gardens and tons of walls’ worth of painting experience, I can totally offer my services to make those dreams a reality. I’d even love to put my experience as an administrative assistant to use with a local organization that needs some office help but can’t afford to hire a full time staffer, or lend my services as a writer to a nonprofit that would like to have a blog, for example.
So, I’m putting all this out here not because I want to brag about how I don’t have to get a job, but because I know many folks reading this have connections to local causes and organizations that might need my time. I’d love some ideas.