'Activism is my rent for living on the planet' Alice Walker
I'm a mom who cares deeply about the education my children are receiving. With all my will and all hours I can find in my day I have been working to support the school board candidates that I believe will serve Sarasota County in the best way - for all children.
In August of 2021, I connected with some amazing strong women who convinced me that there was more fuel in my tank & that I needed to apply it to bettering our community. My imposter syndrome tried to convince me that somebody far more qualified would step up to the plate. But these friends didn't give up on me & kept hammering home that I had something to contribute. So I started that journey & in spite of wanting to quit daily (mainly due to lack of confidence) they have never let me & instead, they have built me up in ways I never knew. With the support of my husband & kids & family & friends, I kept going forward, taking it one day at a time. Some days I look in the mirror & don't recognize who I've become. Other days, I recognize that I've become who I was always meant to be.
I'll admit that I'm tired. Working 60+ hours a week plus giving back to our community is tiring work. But I recognize now that the house will survive without me. Everyone picked up a little of my responsibilities & is helping out. There's certainly more dust bunnies in the house & I'm finding forgiveness for the dishes that sometimes pile up (they aren't going anywhere). My friends are understanding that hitting a bar on a Friday night just isn't always in the cards for me & instead of making me feel guilty, they text me words of encouragement & appreciation. (I'm bawling writing this, just thankful).
Many of you tell me that you just don't have time to give back. I get it. It isn't easy. But I promise you that if you carve out some time to do the things that are important to you, important to the core of who you are, others will pick up the slack. We as mothers are often so busy doing for others, that doing for ourselves feels almost selfish. Don't fall for that. Fulfilling our own needs is where we should start. It's why in an airplane we are instructed to put on our own oxygen masks first, before we put them on our children. While many of you are overwhelmed by the state of our world, and want to look away & ignore it all, I PROMISE YOU, giving back will help you sleep better at night. Find a cause & get involved.
I encourage you all to figure out a way to fight back against oppression, against racism, homophobia, bigotry. We are currently under siege & if we don't fight back, we will wake up in a country that we no longer recognize.
Thank you to all of those who helped me become the best version of myself. I am humbled by your support.
Paulina Testerman is a co-founder of Support Our Schools.