I am so discouraged. Deeply. Deeply. Discouraged.
It’s the early morning hours, I’m up before the sun, enveloped in a darkness that feels appropriate. I can’t sleep.
I feel heaviness all around me. It seems everyone I encounter has a deep weight dragging them down. There is so much sadness, struggle, challenge, heartache, loss, depression, and fear. The entire city seems to be in some sort of mourning, myself included.
2016 has not been kind to most people I know.
It’s October which means I’m entering the fundraising part of the year for Million Girl Army. It’s a time of year I dread. It is immeasurably hard to ask everyone you know for money to support your dream. Their answers determine both the future of Million Girl Army, and because I’m tied so closely with its failure or success, my sense of self-worth.
This year it feels especially hard.
2016 has brought personal challenges to nearly everyone I know. An election filled with hate, tough issues, hard realities about the world we are living in, and pettiness among leaders adds a dark layer on top of everything. Challenges that are hard enough on their own feel heavier as world leaders let us down and hope fades in the chaos of the election.
I enter conversations with larger donors at a significant disadvantage compared to past years. This year I don’t have to just convince them that my dream of Million Girl Army is worthwhile, I have to convince them that dreaming itself is worthwhile.
I have to convince them when leaders feel untrustworthy that they can trust me to lead well and spend their money wisely.
I have to convince them that though the economy is uncertain and the future of our country hangs in a balance, they should generously give money to Million Girl Army, a fledgling non-profit with little track record.
I have to convince them to invest in and have hope for the next generation when they feel hopeless we will make it past this generation.
Given the air of general distrust throughout the nation right now, this is no small task.
Those who gave freely in the past now hold tighter to their money, grabbing on to the security it gives them in an unstable world. Those who once loved the idea of helping to build a new dream that changes the world for girls across the globe suddenly question our lack of track record. They approach our meeting with skepticism and unrest, making an already difficult conversation nearly insurmountable.
I understand where they are coming from. I feel the same challenges, the same trepidation for our collective future. It isn’t that I don’t understand why they feel the way they do, it’s that I don’t know how to go forward and succeed for MGA in the midst of it.
We are about to launch our annual “Matching Funds” campaign. Historically in MGA’s short life, I have secured around $40,000 from larger donors as matching funds. This year I have $23,000.
I feel like a failure.
If I don’t find another way, a better way to tell the story, we will fall way short of what MGA needs financially to function for another year.
But I don’t know how to be persuade people to be brave when they are bombarded every hour of every day with evidence of why they should remain fearful. I don’t know how to create a wave of positive hope for the next generation of girls when the media is so determined to point out all the reasons we should despair. I don’t know how to convince people to be generous and give money away when holding tight to it provides the only security they feel in an uncertain world.
So I toss and I turn and I worry. I don’t sleep.
I don’t have an answer. Even now as I write, I don’t know what to do. The dream of Million Girl Army hangs in the balance. All its potential, all its beauty, all its promise for the next generation of girls stalled and uncertain.
I find I don’t know how to be brave in this situation. I don’t even know what brave looks like. I’m at a loss. Wanting to bravely soldier on and unsure what that means.
I simply don’t have any answers. And uncharacteristically, writing about it hasn’t provided any. So I’m left nearing the end of this post with the same dark, discouraging, weighty thoughts I had when I sat down to write.
Maybe being brave this time is simply finding the courage to post this blog. To put this messy package out in the world when I don’t have a rose colored answer to use as a bow.
Maybe it will find its way to people who share my hope for a brighter and better world for the younger generation of girls.
And just maybe they will be moved to act.