For those hustling day in and day out to make this world a better place: this is for you.
Because you’re out there, knocking doors, making phone calls, building events that you pray don’t fold in on themselves like the delicate collection of blood, sweat, and tears that they are.
You’re perpetually MacGyvering something out of absolutely nothing, and getting media to cover it, spreading the word, the message, the hope so fragile you dare not speak of it aloud.
You’ve worked all year for this moment. And not just this year. Some of you have been working for decades.
This is the time away from your family, your friends, the quiet moments at home that help maintain your sanity.
You’ve pushed, prodded, cajoled, threatened, cried tears of joy, of sorrow, of despair. You’ve thrown up your hands, cursed, closed your eyes, dropped your aching head, and wondered why you’re still doing this.
But you haven’t given up.
You go onto the next house after one person slams the door in your face.
When the person on the line curses at you and hangs up, you make another call. And another. And another.
You watch precious days of planning, of work, of moments you can never get back, scatter like ashes in the wind, leaving you right back where you started.
And, still, you keep going.
The hustle lasts as long as your belief does. At the end of the night, that belief seems finite, but, in the morning, here it is again, waiting to be actualized as you down a few cups of coffee and head out to face another day that won’t be anything like the one before it. And tomorrow? Who the hell knows what those fresh hours will bring.
Breaking news hits the airwaves — a natural disaster, a curveball of a court ruling or Supreme Court appointment — and everything you painstakingly planned falls apart. You rebuild, stacking events on top of each other to create a workable schedule — the meet and greets, interviews, rallies, town halls, forums, meetings, fundraisers, canvasses, phonebanks, trainings, and teleconferences, the webinars you don’t even remember after they end. You send emails while you listen to another phone meeting, forever worrying about budgets and digital media reach, and social media content, and did you remember to invite the right people to the right events? Have enough attendees RSVP’d? Did you call to confirm? Will media show up? Will anyone? Your skin crawls, your stomach twists, and that dread never leaves you. One wrong step, and it feels like the entire operation will cave in on itself.
You forget to eat. You don’t exercise. You fall into bed at the end of the night exhausted, mind reeling with possibility, with excitement, frustration, and anxiety. You wake still drained, your bones heavy, but you down more coffee, and get back to work.
The. Hustle. Never. Ends.
But you can feel the power in what you’re doing. The purpose. It shivers in the pit of your empty stomach where all manner of caffeine goes to die. The idea of what you’re working towards keeps you going more than the actual details. The details don’t matter. The goal shimmers on the horizon, just out of reach.
Your initiative moves forward.
You collect enough petitions.
Your event is a well-attended success.
Volunteers are showing up in droves.
Your candidate is up in the polls, is on TV, is blowing fundraising goals out of the water, is turning to thank you for all your hard work.
At that moment, everything is worth it.
This is an ode for those spreading light in these dark times. Those who know how to turn pain into persistence, despair into direction, helplessness into hope. This is for everyone sprinting towards a finish line they can’t yet see.
Keep running, and pushing, and making it happen.
Change doesn’t come to those who wait. Change comes to those who do.
Doers, take care of yourselves, because this hustle never really ends.
But I’m here with you, in the trenches, in the dark searching for the fabled light at the end of a tunnel that goes on forever.
The movement is you, is us, is everything.