Throughout my Master’s program so far, there is a constant theme where we are asked how we will use what we are learning to bring about positive social change. No matter how many times I am asked this, I still struggle to come up with the kind of answer I imagine they are looking for. Well, let’s be honest- I could make something up and hit it right on the money for them, but then that wouldn’t be me. If I have to lie, I’ve already lost.
I’ve read a lot of the examples they provide of people who are impacting social change. They are creating huge programs, doing large-scale research, trying to change the world, one world at a time. Honestly, I am not a person who enjoys research. I really wish I was because there are a ton of things I would like to investigate further, but the idea of data collection and research design make my body go into physical convulsions. It is not appealing to me in the least. I have never been the type who wants to set out to achieve some monumental accomplishment. I’m the person who takes baby steps, who succeeds in the background, or as my friend calls me- I’m the candle-holder. I won’t toot my own horn no matter what I achieve, and will typically never receive recognition for the things I do because of it. I light the way for others through my actions, and cheer for them behind the scenes. That’s me.
It may be because I’ve spent so much of my life at this point immersed in self-improvement efforts that to me, the best way to impact social change is within myself. My ultimate goal is just to be a good human. I want to continue doing the little things that help those around me, rather than concern myself with so large a picture that it becomes blurry. I want to keep performing random acts of kindness that make even just one person at a time feel cared for. It’s those kind of things that really get the ball rolling. One person at a time, one kind word or act at a time, one day at a time- that’s how positive social change happens.
As I’ve discussed before, you can’t change people. Change has to come from within, a person has to want it and put effort towards it. It can’t be forced. So it makes total sense to me that if I want to create positive social change in this world, it would have to start with me.
I applaud those people who want to do large-scale things to improve this life, but I think it does a disservice to the rest of us to suggest that it’s the only way to do it. We each have so much to offer in our own way and can greatly impact people just by being who we are.
Leading by example, being a good human, is the best way I know how, so that’s what I intend to do.