Several weeks ago I was out getting ice cream with my boyfriend. I had just had an argument with my sister about how Native Americans are not delinquents who squander all their casino money on drugs and booze and I was (obviously) feeling rather flustered. My boyfriend kept saying to me, "I don't know why you even bother with her, she's just ignorant" which is obvious - she is ignorant - but there's no reason to be ignorant in a world today where technology and information are at your fingertips. I told him, "Why wouldn't I say anything? How are you supposed to change the world if you don't say anything?" He stopped. "I don't want to change the world," he said after a moment. I didn't even know what to say. I was completely dumbfounded. Why wouldn't someone want to change the world? This wasn't a concept which I'd ever considered. Ever since it was obvious to me that I could make change, I felt the compulsion to - the overwhelming and frustrating need to. I never thought that it was even a possibility for me to sit quiet and not make change.
In early September, I was at a conference on advocacy training. I had volunteered to be a candidate in a test interview. She was talking to me about why I had changed my degree from fashion design to communications. I responded that it was more fulfilling than fashion. I wanted to change the world and this was the best way to do it. We moved on with the interview but at the end the group was critiquing it. From out of the crowd, one of the teachers, a former congressman, said, "I think the most impressive thing we've learned about Chloe is that she wants to change the world." I smiled one of those fake smiles when you actually just feel lost and unable to comprehend anything. I wanted to quip back, "Why would someone not want to change the world?" but I was too lost in the suddenness of his comment, and the suddenness of the realisation that changing the world is something that I want to do, but not everybody else does.
I was dumbfounded. I rolled it all over in my head, wondering why on earth someone would want to stay quiet and not make change? I'm not talking about anything dramatic. I'm not talking about starting a revolution, putting on a cape and spandex and saving the world from some alien invasion. I'm not aiming for anything major. I don't expect to ever be on Oprah talking about my achievements. That isn't changing the world, not the way I want to.
I was in an internship interview a few weeks ago and I was asked what my long term goals were. I paused for a long time and smiled to myself. I didn't want to say that I was going to change the world. I harkened back to a conversation I'd had with my boyfriend when I'd told him that if I was ever going to be on Oprah for anything, I would want it to be because I had created and implemented an education program that eradicated sexual assault and gender violence. I couldn't help but think that if I could achieve that, my life would be fulfilled - I could want for nothing more. (I relayed this to my interviewers...I got the internship and p.s. I love it).
To me, changing the world isn't starting a revolution, or ending one. It isn't having some kid spread your quote all over Tumblr, pasted onto a photo of an ocean or rippling wheat fields. It isn't being famous and having books written about you. I don't want to say, "I want to change the world" and have people think these things. I don't want people to associate my name with some great change. I don't even know if I want people to notice the change. I just want to go into the lives of as many as possible and change their worlds. I want people to stop hating, I want people to stop being violent, I want people to be happy and be open and accept. That's change, and if it's only in the lives of a few people, that's enough for me to feel fulfilled. I already, at the ripe young age of 20, feel like I am changing the world. And that's enough. Why does it have to be big words? Why can't changing the world be simple? Why should it be something that people raise their eyebrows over - why shouldn't everyone want to change the world?
I found this quote the other day and loved it;
“At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Perhaps I am still young and have no yet learned to close my mouth, but I have strong convictions and I plan to live by them. Hopefully one day I do not hide behind them.
(Source: Etsy; Sorry I didn't source this at first. I had found it through a broken link and couldn't find the original artist - if you ever do know the artist, feel free to send me a link but try to stay clear of expletives or assumptions, thanks!)