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.

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.

Choices

I’ve come to learn that we have a lot more control over our life than we think. Sure, we can’t control the choices or actions of others. Yes, the workings of the world around us are out of our hands. But we control our actions and our perceptions, and that’s a lot.

So, if you want to do something, do it. Maybe it will take time and hard work, but it can be done if you prioritize it and try.

If you want to be someone, be them. I don’t mean someone else, but merely a better version of yourself. The only one standing between who you are and who you want to be is you.

If you want to accomplish your dreams, keep pursuing them no matter how hard it gets or how crazy people think you are. You must be fearless in your pursuit.

Choose to be fearless.

Choose to be happy.

Choose to be you.

It’s like the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Intentionality

Intentionality – the fact of being deliberate or purposive. (Google Definition)

Intention – a determination to act in a certain way (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Not long ago I had an interview for a position as an orientation leader for my university for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The interview was very laid back and consisted of three parts: an impromptu speech, a group activity, and a one-on-one interview. We rotated in groups and I just so happened to be one of the last people to take part in the one-on-one interviews. While I was waiting for my turn to go in I was thinking about my transition into college and what advice I would offer first-year students based off of my own experiences. This wasn’t my first time thinking about this, but I figured giving it some extra thought might be helpful considering there was a very good chance I would be asked a similar question. Luckily for me, that was one of the very first questions I was asked.

At first I wasn’t sure. There is a lot I would want to tell a person making such a large life transition, and a lot that I wish I would have known, but nothing I was thinking of seemed good enough. But then I remembered a quote that I had read in The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst: “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” I have this quote written on my calendar in my dorm, and beneath it, in bold letters, I have written, “BE INTENTIONAL.” So, when the interviewer asked me what advice I would offer a new student, I said that I would tell them to be intentional with their choices. It will be so tempting and easy to do what you want without putting much thought into your decisions because you finally have that extra freedom you never had before… I mean, you’re in college, right? But only so much time will pass before you realize that these decisions you’re making aren’t paying off in the way that you hoped they would.

As I was talking to the interviewer, I felt as if I were giving myself advice more than anything. I dedicate a lot of time and energy doing things that I know (or at least hope) will put me closer to a goal that I hope to achieve. Being intentional with my choices can be really easy when it comes to large scale decisions, but what about the smaller things that I do with little thought? Things such as the way I communicate with others, the music that I listen to, or even the people that I surround myself with seem to happen automatically, but maybe they shouldn’t.

A few days ago I asked a friend how you can know if you’re on the path that God laid out for you and she said that as long as you’re being intentional and praying about all aspects of your life – big or small – you’re on the right track.

Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances, but each day is full of thousands of choices… how intentional are you being with yours?

The Other Golden Rule

We all know the golden rule: “treat others the way you want to be treated.” And while this is a wonderful rule to follow, it rarely is. The problem is that in times of strong emotion such as sadness or anger, our mind goes towards ourselves and not others – we think of how we’re being treated and not how we should treat other people. All we can focus on is doing what we can to make ourselves feel better, then we can treat others the way we want to be treated (but only if they treat us that way first). I’m going to be honest… I think this rule is garbage. It’s a rule that brings out the selfish nature in humans and encourages us to act based on how we think we should act, which, can sometimes be very wrong. Yes, treating others the way we want to be treated is good, but it’s important to remember that we’re all different and what I can handle may be very different from what you can handle.

A while back I was scrolling through social media when I found the phrase, “always be kinder than you feel.” I thought to myself, “now THIS is a rule I can get on board with.” Have you ever known someone who had a habit of casting their emotions on other people? This is the kind of person who, when feeling low, needs everyone else to be low with them. They’re not thinking about treating others the way they want to be treated, they’re thinking about treating others the way the feel they’re being treated – again, the selfishness in our nature is brought out. But if this person instead thought about being kinder than they were feeling, maybe things could be different.

There are days where I feel anything but kind. I wake up with a heavy heart and negative energy seems to be a lot easier to deal with than positive energy. But it’s days like this that I try extra hard to be nice. I remind myself over and over to be kinder than I feel. Obviously this isn’t something that I accomplished in a day and there are times where I have failed miserably, but I like to think that as long as I keep trying, I’m accomplishing something. The other night I was so angry I could barely sleep. One of my friends was being treated with an incredible amount of disrespect by another friend, and I couldn’t handle it. I wanted to scream, to lash out, to tell the person everything they were doing wrong… but I didn’t. Instead, I sent the person a message letting them know I’m sorry for what they’re going through. I let them know that I had talked to God about them, and I hope the hurt they feel goes away. I didn’t react to anger with more anger, I reacted with kindness and compassion.

Always be kinder than you feel.