This post was originally written as a guest post for another site. It never got published so I’m adding it here. I strongly believe that what you do matters, no matter how big or small.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi (Although, word on the street is that he probably never said this.)
I remember finding this quote on a bottle of kombucha a number of years ago. I peeled this bit of the label off and taped it to the back of my cell phone where I saw it every day.
I thought it was a really nice quote. But, I’ll be honest, I couldn’t relate to it much at the time. It spoke of activism to me. And I DO NOT think of myself as an activist.
Sure, I had – and still have – strong beliefs. There are great injustices in the world that should be tackled. Wrongs that should be righted.
But who am I to fight any sort of fight? How does my voice make any difference? I’m white. I grew up lower-middle class. I’m perpetually broke but not broke enough to take wild chances.
Big change seemed like a losing battle to me. And who has the time, anyway? I’m a mom, a person with a full-time job, a mortgage to pay.
But here’s where it got dicey for me.
I’m also an artist and creator. Despite my full-time profession, my creative endeavors have always been there on the margins. In the past few years, those projects began to rattle their cages more loudly.
I was still looking at that quote, too. I can’t explain why but something made me transfer it over to my new phone. It was tattered and wrinkled but still visible through the transparent case on the back of the phone. (and it’s still there, even today!)
Somewhere around September or October of 2012, a realization welled up inside of me. I can’t point to one “kicked in the head moment;” it was more like my internal tea kettle went from simmering to boiling to whistling in fairly quick succession.
The realization went something like this: (cliche alert) Everyday is the first day of the rest of my life. I shouldn’t be waiting for a flash of lightning or the time and resources to do something immense with my talent.
I should be doing something NOW! Today!
That realization coincided with the reemergence of a long-abandoned spiritual journey. I became a seeker again and started allowing myself to have faith and believe in the magic of everyday things.
Holy crap. I suddenly realized I was being the change I wished to see in the world. It was by knocking aside the nonsense and getting clear on what I wanted in my life and beginning to see what my purpose was in serving others. (aside: the answers to those questions are always a work in progress.)
I didn’t start a revolution, I just started walking my talk.
I wanted to be optimistic so I started looking for inspiration. And then talking about it. I wanted less anxiety and more fulfillment. So I sought solutions to that and talked about it more.
Lo and behold, I began to see changes in myself. Happier, more optimistic, less anxious. People started noticing and also mentioning that my subtle changes were inspiring to them. They asked me for suggestions and advice on doing the same.
Even people who had no idea what I was up to – who didn’t subscribe to my mailing list, or read my blog, or follow me on Facebook – commented on the value I brought to a conversation. It was like I was a good role model or something. Whoa! ME?! A role model? no effing way. That is crazy talk!
In all seriousness, by focusing on improving myself, I realized I could help other people make positive changes too. Some days it’s through a blog post or a few Facebook updates. Some days it’s through an email or text message to one person.
My way of being a catalyst for change doesn’t happen overnight. I’m just not a big, bold revolutionary. But I strongly believe it’s the small steps and the little actions that have lasting impact. It’s a total cliche but I mean it in the best possible way:
Everyday is the first day of the rest of YOUR life!
Ask yourself: How will I be the change I wish to see in the world?