Mark My Words

November 8, 2012

I’ve been struggling a long time to figure out what I want to do with my life. I used to joke I had my life planned through graduation this past May. It wasn’t until August and September came that I realized how much I had relied upon this plan–and how much I lacked the direction to proceed since then.

I’ve been journeying this winding path for weeks. I’ve taken personal inventories and gone to job interviews and spoken with advisors and friends about what I’m doing–and none alone has given me more help than my closest friend. She told me flatly that I’m fooling myself. That I’ve always known what I want to do. That I’m just thinking too much.

Well, maybe I have thought too much. But now my thinking is over.

The truth is I have always known what I want to do with my life. I’ve known it for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never been completely honest with myself because of what others have always told me. I have dreams of a greater tomorrow, dreams of the life I could always want, a life I may never have–but the life I strive to work towards. And I’ve decided no longer will I allow others to hold me back from my goal in life. And finally I have been honest and sincere. I do know what I want to do with my life–and I always have.

I want to change the world.

I want to strip away inequality. I want to bring confidence back to our country–confidence in ourselves and confidence in our leaders. I envision a country based upon trust, hard work, and integrity. I see the strife in our daily lives, I see the discord in our systems and the struggles in our homes, I see the promises broken by our leaders both nationally and individually. I want to bring this country back to where it should be; I want to make the United States everything I was promised it would be.

I want to change the world.

I’ve always been told no man can change the world–and maybe this is true. But this is still what I’m going to fight for. Perhaps no one person can change the world alone. But that is no reason to not try–no reason to give up and live for something less, something that will never fulfill me like fighting for change will fulfill me.

I want to change the world.

It occurred to me that this is why I write stories. I create imperfect worlds in which I can live vicariously, faulted and flawed characters through whom I can make my dreams come true–characters who, through their struggles and sacrifices, through their growth and actualization, are able to change the world in which they live–make these imperfect worlds something better, stronger, more ideal. From my ideology comes my passion for creativity, for ways that I can show others that change is real–through fiction I can teach reality.

I want to change the world.

But I don’t yet know how I’m going to do it. I am torn between my passions–for those things I value most are all expressions of this single yearning. I want to stand at the front of a classroom, educating students and opening their minds, instilling in them the insights necessary and the skills required to make positive changes in their own lives, in their communities, and by extension, by example, in the world at large.

I want to serve this country as a leader, a local representative or a Congressman or maybe even president someday. I want to show our youth that leaders can lead with integrity, that money can’t buy representation, that honesty is a value that can make positive things happen in politics. I want to shape the law to be fairer to all people and responsible toward our earth–so that we can sustain this planet not for our future, but for the future of our grandchildren and their children. I want to bring equality to families everywhere, ensure economic prosperity for as many as possible so they can worry about the things that truly matter–not making ends meet, but strengthening our communities, providing for our families, and filling the world with industry fueled not by a lust or need for wealth, but by the desire to do what we love and to share our passions with the world.

I want to write. I want to indulge my fantasies and share the stories I have relied upon for over a decade, these stories I hope will someday stand the test of time alongside my idols of Tolkien and Rowling. I want to invite people into my world–a world where, right now, the stars are at war and a small band of children have been brought to the fight, a world in which–when the words come–they will conquer the darkness for the first time and make way for all that is to come, a world in which unity will be the only cause for victory. I want to take these people I have lived by and give them to others, to inspire, to encourage their own personal adventures, to lead them forward into a harsh world with the tools to stand on their own and make a difference.

I want to change the world.

I want to make a difference. It’s what has always fueled me, what has always pushed me forward–even beyond the limits I believed I’d had. When I first began school at Guilford Tech, I didn’t see myself as a leader and I expected my only student involvement would consist of being that quiet member who comes to the meetings but never says a word–but I wasn’t given that opportunity. There were no meetings because there were no leaders–and with the help of so many individuals, so many mentors and advisors, teachers, friends, classmates and acquaintances, I was able to fill that need when I saw that need–and I was able to make a difference. Perhaps I couldn’t prevent N.C. Amendment 1 from passing. Perhaps I couldn’t stop across-the-board tuition hikes. Perhaps I couldn’t avoid controversy when other students saw a place for trouble and took us there. But I did what I could–and in every moment of my three years of leadership at Guilford Tech, through tutoring and serving as a Student Ambassador and through leading both our Gay-Straight Alliance and our Student Government Association, I stayed true to my values of diversity and equality, justice and fairness, trust and integrity, and although I made mistakes from times to time–and quite a number in my earliest offices–I took every opportunity I was given to grow and build my skills and become the leader I have become today.

I want to change the world.

I have worked for years to change myself. I found my weaknesses and I learned ways to overcome them to function in a way that will allow me to effect change in the world around me. But now, although I must continue to round my skills and become a whole figure, I must also focus on my strengths–for only in building my strengths will I attain the highest potential inside me. And my strengths coincide with my passions–and my passion is to make change. To improve the system, not through scrapping the old and reinventing the wheel, but through synthesizing our ideas and acquiring the greatest innovations to restructure and reform what’s not broken but merely inefficient. This is my passion–and I express it through leadership and service, through teaching and writing, through living by example and always acting in accord to my truest self–for if I cannot stand firm for myself, how can I stand firm for my causes and the people I support?

I want to change the world.

And, God, take note of these words, for in time I will forget them. The rhetoric is strong–no man is an island and the world is far too expansive for any one being to reach all corners. But this is my intent: To make tomorrow better than today, and not just for tomorrow, but for all time moving forward. This is not our world alone–it belongs to our children. And although I do not have children today, someday I will, and when that time comes when I must pass the stewardship of this Garden of Eden into their hands, by God I want this land to truly be a Garden of Eden, where all are equal despite our individual uniqueness, where justice and virtue prevail individually and globally, where the earth is sustained and preserved for all future generations.

I want to change the world.

But I am not blind to reality, and I know that I cannot change the world alone, nor in my lifetime make it everything I envision for the future. However, that does not excuse me from my intent, does not relieve me of my passions, and I shall fight for this cause every day until I die–because even if I cannot change the world, if I can pave the next few steps for those who follow, if I can build the foundation today upon which the next generation shall build tomorrow, I will have left the legacy of change I dream of leaving and will have, through their work, changed all the world.

There’s a teaching I’m fond of that says “You are not obliged to finish the task, [but] neither are you free to neglect it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). There’s another teaching a close rabbi once told me, that we’re always in a state of becoming. Together, these two ideas capture the essence of what I stand to create: I want to see the world reach its actualization, but since this is beyond any single soul, I am not obliged to finish this task–but neither am I free to neglect it.

Mark my words, I shall not neglect it.

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2 thoughts on “Mark My Words

  1. May God bless you in your endeavor! I want you to change the world in the ways you’ve described. A big challenge from this point on is not to let the routine of everyday life distract you from your purpose. Do anything you can to keep that from happening. Start your new, post-graduation life with good habits, and turn frequently during the day to words and pictures that inspire you. Let me know if I can help.

    • Thank you for your kind thougts! I actually have two more years of undergraduate studies left, and I’m going to work towards my goals while still in school. For example, I’ll be an officer in our GLBT organization this coming year, and I hope to reach out to many organizations around campus to start building a truly more inclusive and understanding community.

      Few things help me more than knowing I have people out there who are supportive and happy to help, so just continue doing what you’ve been doing, and it’ll help more than you realize.

      Thanks again, Holly!

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