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City Officials: They're Just Like Us, Right?

Hello, everyone. It's your friendly neighborhood councilwoman here.


I won't speak for all city officials but a good 98% of us are just like you (there's always the ones that make us wonder. You alien, bro?). When you strip away the fancy name plaque and expense account, we ARE you. We come from the same places you come from, we shop and eat at the same places you do, we even live down the street from you. Another thing that makes us just like you? We struggle; we cry, we feel anger, we get our feelings hurt, we doubt ourselves, the list goes on. What sets us apart is that we always try to do what's best for the good of all people. We may not always succeed. But we always try. Oh, and we don't actually have an expense account, I was just kidding.


These past few years have had a much needed focus on mental health, in large part due to living through a pandemic, but other factors definitely played into it's new found importance. The thing about a pandemic is that it affects everyone's mental health; you, your neighbor, your boss, and even, you guessed it, city officials. It may not have ever occurred to you to wonder how we're doing mentally, because do you really want to know if the people making the decisions that affect your day to day are riding the struggle bus? Lucky for you, I'm going to tell you whether you have wondered it or not.


Why am I talking about this right now? Well, you may have noticed in the past two months there have not been the usual write-ups recapping our monthly city meetings; the agenda prep meeting and the official meeting. Now, I'm not delusional in thinking that people clamor to read my write-ups each month, but it was one of the main reason I wanted to get involved in local politics. I want to help make city meetings more accessible for people. Whether that's by breaking them down into bite sized chunks so citizens don't have to make a big time commitment in order to stay informed, or by simply using more widely understood language so people don't have to google Roberts Rules of Order every time we vote on an ordinance. That's very important to me and I don't see myself giving up on that aspect any time soon. Hopefully the missed recaps are an outlier.


However, those missed write-ups have been living rent free in the back of my mind. There was nothing particularly scandalous or huge that happened during them but the community still deserves the chance to have access to the recaps and "translations" I made a promise to offer when elected. Besides, the "boring" items we discuss and vote on are still very important to the big picture.

Now, you may be wondering why I don't just do the write-ups instead of writing about how I didn't do the write-ups but I realized maybe there's something else I can touch on instead.

If you only know me as Ward 2, Position 1 City Council Member Emily Young (or don't know me at all) allow me to fill you in. I own Dog Ear Books with my wonderful mom Pat Young, I opened Retro Roasts coffee shop, and I run a design/branding agency (need a logo? Hit us up). I have a stupidly perfect wife, a 22 year-old stepson, a ShareBear mother-in-law, two stinky dogs, four obnoxious cats, three beautiful nephews, two intelligent nieces, one bestest sister, one silly bro-in-law, and a mom and a dad in a pear tree. I like playing and recording music when I have a chance and no one is looking at me, I recently started learning to illustrate in procreate, I dabble in video editing, and I enjoy discussing wildly inspirational ideas with people in the community. I also started a few podcasts and love watching movies while looking up every single fact that could possibly come up during a random trivia night in the future.


All that to say - I have a full (re:crazy) life. It's bursting with to-do lists, productivity apps, calendars that sync across every device, books on how to organize my life, and countless "how to hack blank" videos saved on TikTok. It also comes with about 400-600 notifications a day on my phone which results in lots of turning on my "do not disturb" setting. It's having decision fatigue before lunch time. It's non-stop and it's up and down. Most days I can get through it, then some days the down is a bit more down than I would like.


I struggle with depression and anxiety (don't we all?) and lately I have been dealing with panic attacks that relegate me to bed to hide away from the world. Sometimes this happens during an Art Walk, sometimes this happens right before heading to a city council meeting, and sometimes it just happens when I walk from the living room to the kitchen. Sure there are triggers I can try to avoid, but the bulk of it is the fact that I want to do so much, so badly but don't have a clone army to help me pull it off. I also have ADHD which could have gone unspoken since you just read the last 2 paragraphs.


Reading Pema Chodron and Ryan Holiday help me ground myself when things go wonky. Putting on a movie I've seen over 279 times but am still not tired of quiets my brain long enough for me to relax (yes, I'm referring to Spice World). I haven't found the magic cure-all for when my anxieties overwhelm me in inopportune moments. Nor have I found the perfect way to shove the dark thoughts back in the closet when they try to keep me from doing things I want, like write-ups about city council meetings. What I have found are ways to be kind to myself when I'm frustrated about my inconsistencies and ways to turn the volume down on the shouting imposter syndrome I am often hit with. And sometimes I may miss an agenda prep meeting, or forget to call someone in my ward back, or just not have the energy and brain power to do a write-up. Just know when that happens - I won't just give up. Not anymore.


You may not struggle with the same issues or even understand people who do, but remember there are members in our community that struggle with something that they think is their burden alone. Hopefully this lets them know that not only are they not alone, but the people working to make the local government mirror its population also struggle in similar ways. It's important to feel seen and heard and know someone else might have worked through the thing you think you can't handle any more. They're out there and more likely than not they want you to reach out to them for guidance, or even just a cup of coffee. Did I mention I own a coffee shop?


I am working on not being too hard on myself because I wouldn't want any of you to be too hard on yourselves. After all, I'm a city official and I'm just like you.


** If you have any questions, comments or complaints please reach out to me at eyoung@rsvlar.org or text my cell 479-970-4098. It can be about the city but it doesn't have to be. I chose this path of public service for my community and no matter the struggles I experience personally I will always follow through on that commitment for as long as I'm able.**


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