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.

The Sun and the Moon

Sometimes I wonder if the sun ever misses the moon. In the rare moments where they meet or glance at one another from across the world, do they know how much time will pass before they meet again? Do they care? Or do they celebrate both their meeting and their divide without feeling sorrow in the time and space between them? I hope they do, and I hope I learn something from them.

Because my first thought in a moment that I recognize as fleetings is never celebration – it’s immediate longing. And as time passes and I come closer to the end of the season I’ve been living in for so long, I’m filled with an insurmountable longing that I can’t seem to shake, even though I know it’s a longing for things that haven’t happened yet. I feel myself missing moments and people and experiences despite the fact that they’re not gone. But the idea that someday they will be is too much for me to simply push to the side. And I know nobody wants to talk about it. But the incessant denial is only putting this feeling at a higher regard. It’s giving it the power it needs to grow rather than the care it needs to heal. It’s like ignoring weeds in a garden and expecting them to go away instead of sitting in the uncomfortable heat for long enough to just dig the damn weeds out.

And the truth is, I am both saddened and terrified at the thought of change. But when I think about the sun and the moon and the rhythm of the earth, I am comforted in knowing that nothing is meant to stay sedentary for too long and change always leads to a beautiful and natural evolution. I don’t think the sun ever misses the moon because it knows that in due time they will meet again. This is a lesson the earth teaches us time and time again and I am doing my best to learn it: that no matter the discomfort from growth and change, everything will work itself out in due time and just like the wonder that comes from the stars at night and the beauty that is revealed in the light of day, it doesn’t matter what you’re missing because something great is being experienced it its place.

21 Things I learned Before Turning 21

  1. Don’t be afraid to love. Love everything and love fiercly and I promise that love will always find its way back to you.
  2. That being said, do more of what you’re afraid of. Some of the greatest things happen just beyond that leap – just beyond your fear.
  3. Find the thing that grounds you – whether it’s a religion, a hobby, or otherwise – and invest yourself in it. Everybody needs a crutch.
  4. Spend more time outside. Feel the ground beneath you and the space around you. Let the earth make you feel small and humble you.
  5. Learn how to be present – whatever that means to you.
  6. Decisions are rarely hard to make, they’re just hard to do. Trust yourself and your insticts and go.
  7. Practice empathy every chance you get. You never know how far a little understanding can go.
  8. Become more self-aware. Learn about the who, what, when, where, and why that make up your being. Understanding yourself is peace.
  9. The opinions of others should matter, but not the opinions of everyone. Find your circle, learn who your people are, and trust what they have to say.
  10. Travel. Even if all you’re able to do is explore the cities around you, travel. There is too much life to be lived and too many things to experience. To do it all in one place would be a waste.
  11. Take advantage of the dull moments. Journal, meditate, exercise – don’t let spare time become wasted time.
  12. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. Keep evolving into whoever your spirit is telling you to become and don’t stop until you can sit back and think, “this is who I’m meant to be.”
  13. Be nice. Just be nice. There is absolutely no reason for me to explain this. Be nice to strangers. Be nice to non-strangers. Be nice to someone even if they’re not nice to you. Just be nice to people. And don’t forget to be nice to yourself, too.
  14. Understanding your pain is the key to understanding happiness. Enjoy both.
  15. Things are almost never as complicated as they seem. Just trust that some things in life really are that simple.
  16. Remember that you’re not alone. It may not feel like it sometimes, but there will always be someone who understands.
  17. If somebody wants to be generous, let them. Don’t always fight it.
  18. Make goals for yourself. They can be as ambitious as a dream job or as simple as getting out of bed. Be proud of every accomplishment.
  19. One thing at a time. Focus on figuring life out one thing at a time.
  20. Have a mantra for yourself. Let it save you.
  21. It’s always a good day for a good day.

We steer where we stare

Do you remember learning this in driving school? You were taught that you should always keep your eyes fixed on where you want to go – whether it’s straight ahead or where you plan on turning. And if you’re driving and become too fixed on the car next to you or something off the road, that’s exactly where you’re going to go. If we teach and follow this rule so adamantly for driving, why not think about it in terms of our everyday lives?

Think about it – how often have you fixed your focus on something that you probably shouldn’t be focused on? You took your eyes off the prize, and what happened? Well, you probably didn’t get the prize. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life. I have some pretty big dreams, and I know that being intentional with my decisions and making sure that I keep my focus on the right path is the only way that I’ll make these dreams come true. But I also understand that life can get in the way, and sometimes that deer in the field next to you or that really cool car driving by can quickly take your focus off of the road right in front of you.

But we can bring our focus back just as quickly as it falters. We can avert our eyes from the distractions that surround us and stare steadfastly at where we want to go. Maybe you don’t know where you want to go, but as long as you’re moving forward and focused on moving forward, you’re going the right direction.

If we steer where we stare, are you staring at something that will help you move forward towards a life you want, or are you staring at something that will move you further from the life you want?

Perspective

As spring break is in full gear for students everywhere, social media seems to be overtaken by pictures of the beach or videos of friends in exotic places. I remember clicking through photos of sandy beaches and palm trees as I sat outside… in a lawn chair… with five inches of snow at my feet and a fire as the only thing keeping me warm(ish). Needless to say, my spring break was a little different than some of my friends back home. I mean, who could turn down camping in southern Indiana in the middle of a snowstorm? It was obviously a well thought-out plan. My friends and I spent the entire trip joking and laughing about every little situation we got ourselves into (like pushing a van out of the mud at 10 a.m. or forgetting to pack lunch for a 6+ mile hike), which made the memories even greater. But at the beginning of the trip, my friend said something to me that really stuck. She mentioned how some things seem a lot bigger when you’re up close, but as soon as you step away, suddenly they’re not so large.

Maybe you think that’s profound or maybe you think it’s ridiculous, but either way, I loved it (shout out to you, Riley!). We went camping at Clifty Falls, which is right on the border of Indiana and Kentucky and very close to some smoke stacks that were part of an energy plant. From our campsite, you could see the stacks peeking through the tops of the trees, but they seemed so small and distant. But once we started our hike and were standing right next to the stacks, we realized just how large they really were. It was like being in a big city for the first time and realizing that pictures will never do justice for the enormous skyscrapers towering over you. Whether I was standing next to these smoke stacks or passing a waterfall or sitting at the top of the trail as I looked at the land beneath me, I couldn’t help but to think about perspective. I started to think about times where I was faced with a problem that felt as if it was towering over me in the same way those smoke stacks were. A problem that, when looking at it, made me feel uneasily small and insignificant. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt like that – who has felt helpless in the shadow of a problem looming over them. But then, like Riley said, as soon as you put things into perspective and take a few steps back, that thing is no longer as big and scary as it was up close.

I think the reason I like this so much is because we seem to quickly put things into a perspective that enhances what we see, rather than diminishes it (or maybe that’s just me?) We put our problems under a magnified glass expecting to solve them that way, rather than taking a step back and changing our perspective. Maybe that mountain you’re facing isn’t really a mountain at all, but you’re standing too close to see how to get around it.

I could have easily examined everything that happened on that trip through a lens that made the bad seem worse and the great seem not so good, but I didn’t. I changed my perspective, and even though I could barely feel my toes and I constantly smelled like fire, I saw the trip as something wonderful.

Take a step back.

Change your perspective.