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Making an impact. Something that I have aimed for, for as long as I can remember. Whenever you read about someone making an impact, you always hear the same thing. Someone somewhere at the age of 12 started a non-profit. A person on your Instagram feed has a new clothing line dedicated to the orphans in Tasmania, complete with professional pics. And someone who you haven’t seen in several years has a unique art pop-up happening in the city as they candidly smile away from the camera and tell their audience to “never give up on their dreams,” complete with the ever desired blue checkmark. This impact that we all desire is popping up everywhere, and if you’re like me, you find yourself more anxious than inspired. More exhausted and burned out as your second podcast collab has fallen through.
An impact is defined as “the force of impression of one thing on another: a significant or MAJOR effect.” So it makes sense that when you are struggling to find your voice as a writer or having a job that feels more important than my current one greeting others on an airplane while watching business travelers on their “think pad” make something meaningful. Making an impact is crucial for me because I want people to feel good; I want to spark inspiration in people they didn’t know they had or question the mandated status quo. But for some reason or another, in the non-linear path of life, I have not been able to find the thing that makes me feel important. I haven’t seen the audience wanting to listen to my endless soapbox of “How Millennials Have Murdered the Job Market.” With these present obstacles, it has been challenging to sustain a trajectory towards a more significant impact. “Why am I important?” This is a question I continuously ask myself as the views continue to falter on my Instagram story or when I have a full day of zero plans yet cannot find the motivation to get started.
Sometimes I feel like I am not making an impact because the numbers aren’t there, and my message continues to get lost in the ever formulating question in my mind of “who gives a shit.” Lately, my exhaustion has been stemming from endless time used doom-scrolling and comparing my journey to other people’s success. I gaze with envy as another friend of mine just got published or someone just got a brand new gig doing what they love. The fits of comparison eat me alive and kill all ounces of creativity. The “why not me’s” fill me up with the dread of starting an important project while giving others a head start on the things that I want to do. However, with endless hours of staring at my wall, I’ve realized those things alone do not make my work any less tremendous or relevant.
The creative startups and the algorithms that we manipulate to rise to the top (literally) can help us reach a larger audience. Still, sometimes I feel like the more we broadcast ourselves as significant, the more we begin to seek more validation from others rather than ourselves. These tools can be helpful but sometimes get in the way of our greater purpose. Comparing and scrolling can sometimes diminish the importance of the minor impacts we have that contribute to others on a smaller yet significant scale. But what I’ve realized (thanks to a darling roommate who happens to be an endearing encourager) is that making an impact goes beyond the quantifiable measures of likes and followers or doing something on a large scale to thrust into the public eye. It is the small moments that we encounter every day that make a difference.
When you pay it forward to a friend having a bad day or smile at a stranger who you cross paths with on the street, and when you work directly with the public and continue to give excellent service to those who need it most. Some impacts do not have to exist within an award’s confines or on a magazine’s pages to feel important. Whether you can feel it or not, you still matter—accomplishments big or small. That even if you don’t have a large fanbase and a certifiable discount code, you impact many more people than you think. While I am still trying my best to feel my impact and place in this big world, I have to remember to ground myself and know that I am important. I matter even if an audience isn’t there to be a witness.