This whole “facing major life changes” thing has made me think a lot about how I got here. Meaning ‘getting my MSW’ here not ‘on planet earth’ here.
Throughout the time I was applying to grad school I often griped to myself and others, (thanks mom) asking “why am I doing this to myself???” and at times it was a question I took fairly seriously. I also kept a fairly serious answer on a post-it note behind the monitor of my work computer (not a serious place in the least.) This post-it said “I am doing this because ultimately, I want to.”
And it was true. No one was forcing me. I was choosing to go through this process because it is what I wanted.
or so I thought at the time.
Now, as I head down a completely different road, I am beginning to untangle all of the reason I ended up headed in this direction.
So here I am on this journey of self discovery (or watching tv, basically the same thing) when my life philosophy was perfectly summated in the characters’ dialogue. Of course they were discussing the ramifications of time travel and how it might effect the space time continuum, but it translates well.
The words come from the show Eureka and involve one character telling the other character how their time traveling had changed reality.
“Think of time as a pond. When we went back we made ripples. Those ripples made changes, but, the farther away from us you get, the ripples fade. 99.99% of the wider world is the way we left it.”
As I listened to these words I realized that they summed up my core belief about how I can change the world. Kinda ridiculous right? Still, the reason that I want to become a social worker, is to create ripples. This is what I want. Out in the universe, not on a post-it. Ultimately, this is what I want. (at least it is today. who knows about tomorrow?)
If I can create changes in the world I touch directly, those changes will create ripples of their own. And so on.
This is how I believe I can change reality. If I change my world, if I can be the best version of myself or help one other person, then I have changed the world. I’m not big into causes or fundraisers or activism. I do believe that one person’s actions can domino into the other 99.99%.
I believe this because it happened to me. My life was saved by a sixteen year old and a snickers bar. No joke.
This is an excerpt from my Smith Social Work application asking me about significant events that influenced my values and beliefs:
“I am lucky enough to have had a single person accidently change my life. As a teenager I struggled very hard with who I was and was angry about what my genetics had given me. I blamed everyone else for my issues and didn’t know how to find a way out. One summer at YMCA Camp Orkila, my favorite place in the whole world, my life was changed by a bet. I was twelve and my sixteen-year-old counselor-in-training bet me a king sized snickers bar, its worth being equal to gold at over night camp, that I couldn’t go twenty four hours without saying something negative. I agreed. Before this bet I had never thought of myself as a particularly negative person or that having a negative attitude was a choice. Through this bet I saw how different I could be and feel by trying this one tiny change. That one person, out of everyone who surrounded me throughout the year, saw that I was struggling and provided me with a tool to change my perspective. Unsurprisingly that CIT is now a social worker. I won the bet, got the chocolate, and have been doing my best to be a more positive person ever since.”
This is a true story.
I wanted to share this journey for two reasons.
- I am heading up to Orkila this weekend and it is still my favorite place in the world
- Part of having your life saved is paying it forward. I know it is my job to share this experience as evidence that the little things do matter. Life isn’t always about the grand gesture or the big donation. Sometimes you can save someone with a candy bar.
Of course, this is still all youthful idealism. In fifty years when we are all living in pods because the atmosphere is to toxic to breathe I will look back on this and gurgle (people won’t be able to breathe deeply enough to laugh). Or, I will look back from my comfy home at a life well lived, fueled by youthful idealism. That would be cool too.