By Lindsey Little, author and member of RESULTS Hobart
I woke up with purpose. It was the day I was going to have my first meeting with a politician on behalf of RESULTS, to talk about government funding for child immunizations all over the world. I was saving lives. I felt like a superhero.
That feeling lasted for about twenty minutes.
It was the skirt that was my downfall. You see, I’ve been working from home for the last few years, and my work apparel for that time has spanned from jeans to pyjamas. I was quite excited to be dressing up again in an office skirt and blouse. I was less excited to find that the skirt no longer fitted. Oh, the zip did up with a bit of superhuman tugging, but when I sat down it would ride up my stocky legs to give the massive bulk of my stomach a bit more fabric to bulge into. It was an unsightly scene, usually reserved for horror movies.
So I went looking for a new outfit. All other skirts were quickly dismissed, so I settled on my black pants. And excellent idea: they would hide the ladders in my stockings. Now, where had I put my black pants?
I found them scrunched up into a ball at the bottom of the dirty laundry basket.
Not to worry – a quick iron and they looked half presentable. Well, they did until I burned the seat of them with the iron.
Not to worry – I would just wear a longer top to hide the burn. I could wear my blouse with the… Oh, no I couldn’t. It barely fitted over my bust. One emphatic gesture about government funding and buttons would go flying.
A quick search through my other tops revealed that I only own clothes that bulge, gape, slip, billow or have childish pictures printed on them. Eventually I found a red top which, while not exactly professional, was not unsightly. Well, apart from the cat hair all over it.
I had now spent an hour getting dressed, and was sporting burnt pants, a hairy t-shirt, mud-flecked boots and a black jacket that should have been retired ten years ago. Also, I was late.
The RESULTS team that was meeting with the Senator had decided to meet up beforehand at a café to go over the content we would be presenting. An excellent idea, I thought, seeing as I’d only been a member for a couple of months and wasn’t quite clear on, well, anything. A good opportunity to learn.
Or a good opportunity to feel self-conscious, as it turned out. The other two members turned up with gorgeous office clothes, beautifully made-up faces, a wealth of knowledge and a professional attitude. I sat at our table feeling frumpy, awkward and ignorant. I felt like I was letting the team down. Worse, I felt like I was letting 300 million kids waiting for their vaccines all over the world down.
Then it was time to walk over to the Senator’s office. While I walked I kept muttering phrases like “parliamentary delegation” and “outgoing deputy CEO”. The phrases didn’t mean anything to me. They were just the lines I had to say in the meeting to keep anyone from realising that I was a nobody who knew nothing. I felt like a child rehearsing her lines for the school play – a play in which she was pretending to be a grown-up.
All too soon, we were there, and I was just wondering whether they’d even let a fraud like me through the door when we were met by the Senator’s assistant, Imogen.
Imogen was wearing jeans, a checked shirt and sneakers. I could have kissed Imogen.
Suddenly, I was not nervous or worried. I was calm. I was interested in the discussion. I was engaged. And, more than that, I felt I had a role to play there, that I could contribute to the meeting, and maybe help do something about the extreme poverty that no person on this planet of ours should have to suffer through.
It’s funny, how everything fell into perspective so quickly. The other RESULTS members were no longer there to show me up; they were smart, caring young women, and I was one of their team. My lines about delegations and CEOs weren’t just lines anymore; they were pieces of information that I had to impart to get the actions we wanted that would lead to results. And I was no longer a frumpy girl with no right to be there; I was a citizen of the Earth who saw something she disagreed with and decided to do something about it.
It wasn’t a perfect performance – there were questions I didn’t know the answers to, technical elements I didn’t follow, and I’m pretty sure the photo taken at the end of the meeting won’t be one I’ll blow up and hang on my wall – but it showed me that I could do something important, and I could get better and better at it.
I walked out of that meeting feeling like a superhero, and that feeling lasted more than twenty minutes.