It’s a fine day in the city. The streets are… well, doing whatever streets do in the middle of the day. Most people are staying inside to avoid the heat. There is an uncomfortable amount of perspiration in your armpits, and the sun decidedly sucks.
You duck into a 7-11 for a quick drink, and the cashier reminds you to scan the government-mandated QR code to mark your location. His tone implies that if you do not comply, you will be forcibly removed from the premises. It is summer break, and life is good.
The end of July looms, and with it, the official midpoint of the last high-school summer break of our lives. (I assume the break in-between senior year and college doesn’t count as a high-school summer break. I will go so far in my assumptions to say that it could probably just be called purgatory.)
And what a summer break it’s been, huh?
Personally, for me, it’s been college research (ew), writing projects (better), being sequestered indoors while your faith in the national government teeters and fluctuates with every COVID update that comes along on social media (yippee!), and befriending strangers online (always fun).
On top of that, the air conditioning is acting up in our living room, which is just what we needed for a summer that averages 36°C every day.
You know what? For me, these winter and summer vacations almost feel like a politician running for office.
What if I didn’t explain what I meant? What if I just went, Thanks for reading! Go drink some water and sign up for my newsletter that I don’t use.
I’m not gonna do that. Allow me to elaborate.
You know how we can basically boil down a politician running for office into a few simple steps? Here, I’ll demonstrate.
Imagine that you’re a straight, white, middle-aged man, like in the song Straight White Man by Bo Burnham. You think khakis are a fashion statement, and you’re balding slightly. No one can tell for sure where you lie on the political compass, because liberals keep bringing up the fact that you support gay rights, and you pretend to not know what Roe v. Wade is. You’ve only been involved in one minor scandal, and it wasn’t even sex-related.
Your name’s John Johnson, and here is your comprehensive plan to run for office.
Step One: Be Motivated
You wake up one morning, and you’re filled with the urge to enact some sort of change upon our modern society. Maybe you genuinely care about the people, and you want to be in a position of power in which you can improve the status quo. Maybe you just want to be in a position of power. Maybe you just really hate women’s rights, and you’re fueled by sheer spite.
Whatever the case, you’re convinced of one thing: That you’re going to run for office, and you’re going to do a damn good job. Already, a plan is formulating in your mind.
You fill out all the necessary paperwork in a single afternoon, and it’s official! You’ll be on the ballot for the upcoming election.
Which brings us to…
Step Two: Announce the News
Opening Twitter, you consider the various vaguely condescending yet humble ways you could phrase your big announcement.
Hello. No, who starts a tweet like that?
Big news! Hm. Maybe a tad too energetic and happy. You’re supposed to be a spokesperson of the people, a bit aloof and above it all.
The rumors are correct… Yes, perfect. It’s a good hook and it’ll draw people in. Even though there have been exactly zero rumors concerning your candidacy, it’ll still spark curiosity.
I will be running for office on election day. Simple and straightforward—let everyone know your intentions and plans clearly. You add a few more details on what exactly you’re running for and the date of the election.
Now that the star of the message is out, you need to think of a way to end the tweet. Some sort of filler that will make you sound likable yet not too likable, lest people think you’re too friendly and thus incompetent at being a politician.
Be humble. You can never go wrong with humility.
I hope I will be able to serve you all. I wouldn’t be here without your support through the years. And finally, a call to action: A vote for me is a vote for your future!
And in that moment, you truly believe your words. You are going to change the world, for better or for worse, once you ascend to office.
You press Send Tweet, and the next day, you are on the news. The world knows about you and your plans.
Your work has begun.
Step Three: Getting Down to Business
For the first few weeks of your candidacy, things are running smoothly.
You’re organizing events and endorsements for your campaign, you’re managing a PR team that in turn manages your social media, and you’re being emailed for interviews on late night shows. Your desk is neat and organized with legal documents and proposals. Things are going good.
People check in on you sometimes—they tweet questions about your intentions and policies to you, to which you respond vaguely and generically. Your team bustles you around and you go willingly, attending press meetings and conferences and even more interviews.
Slowly but surely, your popularity rating rises. You watch it go up with a sense of accomplishment and pride. You’re doing it!
Determination swells in your chest. You can do this. You’re sure of it.
Step Four: Uh Oh
You hit a snag.
Maybe there was a thread on Twitter that called out your problematic past. Maybe your opponent gained a sudden burst in popularity, having been photographed at some charity event.
It was inevitable, really—there will always be setbacks, after all. But it’s discouraging. And it leaves you staring at the numbers, the ratings, the feedback and reports your team gives you.
Your opponent just cured cancer. Your opponent gained the power of flight. Your opponent slew an evil fire-breathing dragon destined to bring darkness to the world.
You, on the other hand, are being accused of drop-kicking an orphan.
The bad news just keeps coming, and you begin to think candidacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The reports seem hopeless. Your team is despondent. Your wife isn’t talking to you.
Step Five: hey uhh this office thing is actually kinda hard
You’re too far behind in progress. Your opponents all have insane ratings, and each one of them looks set to win the election by a landslide. Half your team has resigned. You think back to the oh-so-determined you, barely even a month ago, and you marvel at how fast things can go to shit.
“Hey, honey,” your wife says, knocking on the door to your home office. She’s worried about how stressed you seem—things might be tense between the two of you, but she still cares. “How’s progress going?”
“Good,” you lie through your teeth. “Things are coming along.” They are not.
Step Six: ???&#*@$??!#*@#
Step Seven: Profit?
This one is up for debate. Whether or not the end result of the election benefits you, it doesn’t really matter. What matters, as they say, is the journey.
And boy, did the journey suck.
You’re probably thinking, “Is that it? That’s the analogy?” And, like… yeah. Yeah, that’s it. Disappointing? Sorry. You’ll get used to it. Hope you enjoyed the Brian David Gilbert interlude, at least.
And now, for our final segment:
So what comes next?
In the hypothetical scenario I proposed for John Johnson, nothing. That world has now ceased to exist. The TVA got to it. Sorry.
As for the real world? Well…
Senior year of high-school is a more than daunting prospect, and the idea of these twelve years of school coming to an end is… insane. For the better part of our lives, we’ve been stuck in a weird Groundhog Day-ish loop of methodical boredom—and really, what’s changed in these years? I’ve grown taller, yeah, but have I gotten wiser? No.
So what was the point here?
Here’s a list of things I can think of off the top of my head that these twelve years have given me. I could go on.
School starts in a month—our last year of high-school that we’ll ever have in our lives. College applications, exams, eighteenth birthdays, and more… here we come.
Are we ready at all?
I guess we’ll have to find out. Tune in next week to do so, in the next installment of What Mildly Inconvenient Thing Will Escalate Into The Topic of my Next Therapy Session? (Just kidding. I don’t go to therapy.)
Thanks for joining me today. Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter, if you’d like exclusive content and updates on new posts when they come out—and even if you don’t, well, I still hope to see you around again soon!
Have a nice summer, dear reader.