I live in Los Angeles, and for those of you unfamiliar with the weather patterns in California, we are in a perpetual drought, one that is worsening every day. Because of this there are billboards throughout the city claiming that “Every drop counts.” Basically the billboards are instructing the general public to catch water in a bucket while showering so as to water the plants, check the knobs in your shower to make sure they are fully off, fix leaky faucets, and so on. Which could lead one to think, how is my double-checking that the shower handles are all the way off going to make an impact on this horrifying, never-ending drought? Is my minimal water conservation going to make any difference? That is what I thought. Who cares if I continue to take 15-minute showers? 1. No one will even notice my water conservation. 2. One person can really not make that big of a difference. Yeah, I actually thought—and believed for a brief moment—that one person can’t really make a difference. Not exactly the best mindset for a woman set on changing the lives of other women, unifying women around the world, believing that we are capable of massive change in our generation, and so much more… But that is the trap into which we are all guilty of falling. If we are all only thinking about ourselves, none of us will change our actions.
Alone, we may not be able to contribute much, but as a group, we are able to make a significant impact. The key, however, is a shift of consciousness that allows us to stop thinking of self and the impact of one, and instead think of the difference that many can elicit when joined together. If the 10 million people living in Los Angeles stop watering their lawns, water will be conserved. This ideology is significant in so many areas of our lives. We live in a broken world, one that is in dire need of change, and one person is never going to be able to “change the world” as we so often claim in our graduation speeches. However, one person with another person with a larger group with the community can.
So how can you, you all on your own, join (or create) a movement to make a difference? First of all, know yourself. What are you passionate about? Do you want to end homelessness? Do you want to make sure the arts stay funded in public schools? Do you want to fight against child abuse? Do you want better gun control laws in America? Once you know where your heart is, you will be able to harness your energies and focus your abilities.
Secondly, begin somewhere. Start by volunteering at your local homeless shelter. Look into working with organizations that help find permanent housing for those living on the streets. Teach piano lessons at an afterschool program. Put on a community theatre production with the local kids. Go to rallies. Write your senators. Use social media. Use your physical presence.
Thirdly, become a student of your mission. Once you have started working toward your specific goal of making a difference, you will develop a better understanding of how your objectives can be accomplished. Be willing to revisit your strategy for success on a daily basis. If people are not responding to your Facebook rants, it isn’t going to do you any good to continue posting them in the exact same manner. Try taking someone out for coffee and explaining to them how their efforts could align with yours. If you are talking to the same School Board in the same language with the same tone and they are consistently ignoring you, update your argument. Rephrase your position and present it from a different angle. Always be looking for the most efficient and long-term methods of achieving your goals.
Lastly (well, not lastly in general, but for the sake of this blog), find others of a similar mindset. You will be blown away by the people that have similar interests to you, once you start talking to those you encounter. You must be willing to network, and to truly listen to what others are seeking to accomplish. I know networking is a scary concept, but your mission should be to seek out like-minded individuals with whom you truly connect. Networking and building your own support community should not be a dreaded task, rather it should be seen as an opportunity to create meaningful relationships that will cultivate a better world. Be the person that connects with another person. Then the two of you will be able to connect with a larger group, and from there you will begin to influence communities. Making an impact is within your grasp.
Now I take shorter showers and I water my succulents with recycled water and I haven’t washed my car in eight months, but there’s still a drought. Change isn’t instantaneous. The world is not going to be a dramatically different place overnight, but don’t be discouraged. Your efforts will be a crucial piece of the difference-making puzzle. And even if that’s sort of a lame analogy, think about how incomplete a puzzle looks with even one piece missing? So go. Be the difference our crazy world needs.
Until next time,