I hadn't decided to start a nonprofit, and I wasn't looking to start one. I didn't think I could, I didn't think I couldn't. I just hadn't thought about it at all! I'm not the entrepreneurial kind although I do enjoy bossing people around, and brainstorming with friends over a cup of coffee about how to change the world.
So why am I thinking to start one? And what do I know about starting one? The answer to the second question is, "I don't know anything about starting a nonprofit. But it doesn't matter because plenty of other people do."
But here is the answer to the first question. It's very protracted, but it reflects the way I thought about it.
Step 1 : Resolve
Since I know a lot about what's wrong with current policies but have very little idea - just like every other person - about how to make anything right, I might as well jump in and give my ideas a try, right?
Once I had my resolve written down, I emailed four of my close friends way back from highschool. One of them has been my best friend since we were both 9 years old. We had made our "best friendship" official by writing a letter to each other. The other three I haven't seen since I started college in the US, meaning I last saw them about 11 years ago! All of them live and work in India, and one of them actually had a baby just a few months ago (the baby is adorable by the way, and I've never known a happier sleep deprived new mother).
Anyway, we're all connected on Facebook now of course, so entirely on a whim, I decided to email them. It was a 3 page email with my entire personal story of the past 10 years, because we needed to catch up didn't we?! But here's the core of what I proposed:
"So here's the deal. I'll be graduating in May 2012, and I will be able to continue staying in the US for another year during which I can work & look for jobs etc. But in the meantime, I want to start a group initiative that focuses on getting more women to participate directly in politics, governance, and policymaking, a political leadership initiative if you will.
These friends that I haven't seen in more than a decade are (1) ridiculously supportive people and (2) as delightfully excitable and mad as I remember them from highschool. For whatever reason, every one of my friends replied. In less than a week. And they all said the same thing, "I am in". It made me feel like I was planning an exciting heist, like in Ocean's Eleven. Or like I was starting an "adventure" as in the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. I'm pretty sure this is not how normal almost-30 year olds think about career moves and the like, but hey, I've already made it clear how I feel about turning 30 and entering adulthhood.