You Will Not Change the World

When I was younger, I remember reading the quote, “Those who are crazy enough to change the world are often the ones who do,” and I was instantly inspired. My pre-teen self was convinced that I would change the world because Bill Gates or whoever said that quote told me I could, and who was I to argue? And even as time passed, I held to that idea firmly because anything can happen if you really believe, right? And even though my concept of what it meant to change the world evolved and grew just as I did, the overarching idea of being able to accomplish change remained the same. I was hopeful that with the right mindset and the appropriate goals, I could fulfill this dream.

I’ve come to learn that the biggest problem with being full of hope is not the soul-crushing reality that the world is an unpredictable place and anything can change in the blink of an eye and there’s nothing you or I can do to stop that. No, it’s the way people around you insist fervently that, for means unique to them, your dream will not come true. And believe me, I’ve heard every thought, opinion, and idea, ranging from the well-meaning, “That’s nice, but why don’t you consider (insert alternate “reasonable” goal here) instead?” to the not-so-subtle “You don’t really think you can do that, do you?” And I don’t know about you, but the biggest struggle for keeping my dreams alive is the fight with which I have to maintain in order to not succumb to those who think their ideas are somehow more realistic or reasonable than mine, as if “reasonable” is the force driving me to hope in the first place.

But reasonable does not get you to heights never before seen.

Reasonable does not break records and encourage others to try harder.

Reasonable does not lead to great change.

I know that the doubt that shrouds my mind is not my own; it’s merely reflections of others who were too afraid to follow their own dreams and curiosities that they no longer see the point in others following theirs.

And maybe they’re right. Maybe you or I will never change the world. Maybe it is a lost cause and a dream that large is meant to stay just that: a dream. But the way I see it, the simple act of trying to create change is sometimes enough – and maybe that alone is all it takes to change the world.

So no, maybe you won’t change the world, but you can sure as hell try.

To The One Who’s Tired of Waiting…

Don’t sell out. I know that sometimes waiting can be hard and the work and time you’ve been putting in can start to feel like nothing more than a few more grains of sand falling through the hourglass, but don’t sell out. Don’t sell your dream for a hand-me-down or a knock-off that may bare resemblance but will never fulfill your purpose. Don’t sell your love for something that will leave you feeling more used than the running shoes you have barely broken in. Don’t sell your goals for something that may put you three steps ahead today but will leave you miles behind tomorrow.

And I know what it’s like to be tired. When the strain you’ve put on your mind and your body just to get through another day can add up to a pile so high that the path you walk has turned into a trek through the mountains that even the most skilled hikers wouldn’t dare tread. I know what it’s like to want results. To have waited so long that you wonder if the clock still works because the endless ticking has been so deeply engraved into your mind that it’s no longer an outside sound; it’s a part of you.

I know. I know how heavy your heart can get. I know about the lonely nights and the discouraging mornings. I understand that life is a game of give and take and sometimes it feels like the world isn’t just taking, but it’s not even providing the opportunity to give.

But I also know that there is something to be said about all this waiting. That sometimes the impatient pursuit defeats the purpose of the lesson that is meant to be understood in the quieter moments. And sometimes the strain you’ve been holding is only giving you strength to tackle whatever’s around the corner.

But keep in mind that there’s a difference between moving forward while you follow your path and racing forward trying to create your own. There’s a reason life hasn’t brought you to where you want to be. And I don’t have all the answers. Nobody does. But sometimes the most important thing you can do is ask the right questions. So, my question to you is, what’s the lesson you’re missing?

Find it. Learn it. Embrace it. And until then, find peace in the waiting.

When Fear is Knocking…

“When fear knocks, hope goes to answer and faith is at the door.”

I work with adults trying to earn their GED/HSE (many of whom struggle with some sort of disability) or adults learning English as a second language. One student in particular has gone through a lifetime of trauma that has left her struggling to get back on her feet but has also left her with a lot of wisdom. While we were finishing up a poetry lesson, she began talking about her journey and sharing things she does to stay grounded and get through each day and this quote was one thing she brought up, after hearing it recently at a Bible study:

When Fear knocks, Hope goes to answer and Faith is at the door.”

Ever since then, it has completely consumed my mind.

When Fear knocks, Hope goes to answer and Faith is at the door.”

We all feel fear – that’s undeniable. But the level of fear we each go through is different and particular to every person and every situation. Sometimes fear is simply knocking on your door, giving you the opportunity to answer and send it away. But other times it’s whispering through the walls, making its presence known but refusing to be found. Or, maybe it’s stomping on the ceilings, causing the pounding in your head to match the pounding on the roof while always staying just out of reach. Regardless of where the fear is or what it’s doing, it’s there. So, what can you do?

Do you fight it?

Do you send your dog to the door to scare it away?

Do you drill nails in the wall to shut it up?

Do you hit the ceiling with a broom to knock it off?

How do you get rid of fear?

Easy – you use Hope.

There are a lot of things I’m afraid of. I’m afraid about relationships falling through. I’m afraid of jobs not working out. I’m even afraid of completely ridiculous things that have literally no explanation, like hyenas. Regardless of what I’m afraid of, the fear is there. And I’d be willing to bet that you have your own fears, too (some more rational than others). Sometimes the fear can be overwhelming – I know the fear is irrational but for some reason I can’t seem to shake it. But then I remember my trusty friend: Hope.

Hope doesn’t care about rationality because Hope itself isn’t always rational.

Twice a week I work with one student in teaching him English. When I first met him, he was incredibly shy and lacked confidence in his knowledge. Most of the time I asked him a question, he answered, “I don’t know,” and waited for me to give him the answer because he was afraid of being wrong. But lately, I will ask him a question and he’ll say, “I don’t know, but okay,” and tries because he hopes he is right. And ladies and gentlemen, that is the answer to defeating fear.

You don’t have to know. You don’t have to understand. You just have to fight one unknowing and irrational thing (fear) with another, better unknowing and irrational thing (hope).

Faith itself is scary, but don’t let it disguise itself as something that it’s not. Send Hope to the door and watch as what you thought was Fear transforms itself into something positive – something scary but for all the right reasons: Faith.

The Hardest Part

I have always had the mindset that getting started is the hardest part because that’s a cliche I’ve heard my entire life. But lately, as I feel my life slowing down, I’m starting to take on a different perspective.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been someone who’s had a difficult time “starting” things. More often than not, if I have an idea and I know what I want my outcome to be, getting started is pretty easy. Besides, beginning has always been much easier than mastering, but the path between the two is long and windy. With that being said, once the initial excitement that drove me to start fades away and life starts throwing in unexpected outcomes, that’s when things get difficult. That, to me, is the hardest part.

When I was in high school, my band director would always tell us “the devil is in the details.” She wouldn’t say this when we first got a piece and were learning the ropes, but rather, when we had spent months practicing and still had ways to go. Music wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if you didn’t have the details of crescendos and accents or any other musical elements. In life and everything we pursue, the devil is in the details as well. Just as the excitement of a new idea fades and the comfort of where we’re at sets in, the devil creeps around the corner to tell us there is nothing more that needs to be done. But just like those details in the music make it musical, it’s the details in life and our ideas that make them beautiful. 

Starting something is always easy once the “starting” actually begins. But like I said, it’s when the initial excitement fades into something normal and the ideas just become more paths to choose from that the “hardest part” kicks in. The reason getting started is easy is because our eyes are set on the big picture. But like my director said, the devil is in the details. So how do we move from the big picture to the details while still maintaining that level of thrill that pushed us forward to begin with?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. I’m doing my best to keep my life – my goals and aspirations – from coming to a complete standstill only because I have failed to keep looking for the details, but that is easier said than done. My advice to you (and to myself) is to never stop digging for something more. Even when you think you have it all figured out and the picture is complete or the song is perfected, keep looking. I would be willing to bet that there’s something more – something better – that you have yet to discover.

If there is a devil hiding in the details, hunt that sucker down.

New Beginnings

When I was preparing to come home for the summer after my first year of college ended, I cried knowing things wouldn’t be the same next year.

When I was packing to move back in for my second year, my mom cried knowing that me leaving this time was different.

When I was talking to a friend after a week or two of being at school, she cried knowing things felt different.

The routine and steadiness of this past year became so comfortable that the new beginnings everyone was experiencing became overwhelming rather than exciting.

But the problem didn’t lie in the newness of what I was experiencing, it lay in the comfort of what I had experienced.

The overwhelming sense of “new” that was surrounding my life as I left home to go to college where nearly everything had changed from the year before had sent a shock to all my senses. While I was consciously aware that things were going to be different, it didn’t register until I actually felt the differences. But as I was in class writing a reflection of my week I realized that this shock to my senses was exactly what I needed to get out of the content mindset I was in.

There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable, but there is some danger in being content. I had gotten so comfortable in my way of life last year that I had also become content, not feeling the need for or even wanting change. So much so that when change happened I didn’t know how to respond.

But the new beginnings that are taking place in nearly every aspect of my life have served me well and reminded me not only to be careful about becoming content, but to appreciate change as well.

I know that with all the new things I am experiencing I will continue to grow into the person I want to be and learn each step of the way.

I hope you learn to appreciate and see the beauty in change as well.