Has someone ever asked you "if you could change one thing what would it be"? I have found myself being asked this multiple times and struggling to come up with an answer. The first time, I drew a blank and froze. It was as if I forgot what words were and how to form sentences. Okay, so maybe I'm not the best with on the spot questions, I thought. As time passed and others asked me this, I realized that I have no idea how to answer. It's not because I'm uneducated with global issues or lacking an opinion on these matters. I don't know how to answer this question because I have no idea where to begin. How could I pick one thing to correct? I'm not a fan of hypotheticals to begin with, and the thought of deciding between eradicating world hunger, discovering the cure to cancer plus other diseases and world peace overwhelmed me. Friends laughed and said I was "overthinking it". The people asking the question would tell me to "relax", "not take life or this so seriously" or say "it's only pretend". I have a difficult time swallowing that this is "pretend". For some, this is reality. Why can't I feed the hungry? Why can't I help put an end to suffering? These issues are not problems from a game of make believe.
I know I'm not going to solving our global issues in a moment, but that doesn't mean I do not want to try. I want to see the day when there is a zero percent hunger rate. I want every single human being to have access to clean water. I want there to be a home for every child. I want animals to not be endangered. I want the world to have more light in it.
I think Dr. Seuss says it perfectly: "those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind". Be you. Do what makes you happy and excited to start the day. For me, it is social justice and nonprofit work. I love helping others and seeing how my actions and commitment can quite literally save someone's life. It amazes me how we have the power to influence another life. So, I ask you. What is it that you want to change? Is it one thing or a multitude of injustices? Whatever it may be, I want you to know that you can do it. It's not going to be easy. Heck, there are going to be days where you might cry or scream and wish you could quit. Don't stop. When you see the statistics change, received the final count for the number of lives you helped and meet the people who you helped- it will be well worth every bit of stress or setback you endured. I have had a few people ask me how to make a difference. My response each time is begin. All you have to do is start. The rest will fall into place, I promise.
It's perfectly okay not knowing where to start or what to start with. I was overwhelmed (heck, I still am at times) with all of the opportunities, organizations and volunteer groups out there. Here are a few ways to begin:
- Decide what you're passionate about and want to help change. If you're unsure what this is, talk to a parent, guardian or friends. Learn about the things they are involved in or want to make a difference with.
- Research. Google is my best friend, and will be yours too (if it isn't already). Look up clubs, volunteer groups, charities, community events, etc. in your area. You may be surprised to learn how involved your community and surrounding towns are with a particular issue.
- Get involved. There are SO many things to do and ways to make a difference. Find something that sounds interesting and intrigues you!
- Start a blog. This is a great way to put all of the information you learned into one place and share it with others.
- Read credible blogs. United Nations is a great place to start!
- Visit the local library. My goodness are there a plethora of useful tools there. Between the books, special events, public speakers and librarians, you will learn an incredible amount. Stop in to ask a librarian if he or she can give you any resources to help you learn about your topic.
It's okay to not know what causes to support. Try things out! You never know what you like, until you give it a try. The moral of the story is this: it's okay to be afraid and to feel overwhelmed. What isn't okay is letting fear take over. Be terrified, but begin. Ask questions and begin. Research, talk about it, get involved- this is beginning.
This month's challenge:
This week I challenge you to begin. There is no wrong way to start, as long as you take the first step and do it. So, start Googling, get your friends involved, make a list- whatever it takes to help you start!
MAKE SURE TO SHARE YOUR STORIES, ADVENTURES, PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND MORE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Thank you Sawyer Bengtson, for the photo. Check out his other photos on his Instagram @Sawyerbengtson