Ever have something nag at you, that you couldn't get out of your head...no matter what else you get into, it's sitting there at the back of your mind, reminding you that you won't be moving on any time soon? Well, the concept of sharing my thoughts and findings on ethical, conscious consumerism and showcasing those doing good (among other musings) has been that for me since 2008. I would draw up plans for my shop that only sold products benefiting others in some way...so at the time, it basically consisted of Tom's shoes in every different color and design. I researched and wrote about my favorite individuals and organizations who were hoping to change the world, in my hopes of changing the world, too.
And then...drumroll...I did nothing about it. At first, I did nothing because I didn't think anyone would care about these kinds of things. Fast forward a few years later and these ideas were much more mainstream, which meant I did nothing about it because I believed I'd just be part of the "noise". If so many others are doing it, what would I have to add?
I'm not saying this to try and convince anyone that I'm not just wanting to jump on any sort of bandwagon (besides, starting a blog in 2018 might be one of the worst bandwagons to jump on), but only to share what brought me here. And to give into that nagging little voice telling me to share my journey, even if only one person ever reads it (Hi, mom).
So here we go, just 10 years later.
How'd I get here.
After graduating from college with a degree in International Studies, and a desire to just GO, I took a trip to Africa where I saw an overwhelming amount of poverty, the necessity for simple living, and the joy that still existed in doing so. I'm aware that this is the most cliche statement ever, but it's true...that trip to Africa changed me. But in a way where I didn’t know what to do with everything I saw and experienced. So I started volunteering, and then working for the organization I went to Africa with. It felt like the best and only way to help in a somewhat tangible way on an ongoing basis.
Around the same time, I was asked to go to a screening of a movie called Call + Response. It was one of the first exposures I had to the tragic epidemic of human trafficking and sex slavery. Again, I didn’t know what to do with the things I saw and learned about this issue. So I saw the movie a few times, bringing different friends each time, and eventually a group of us girls hosted an event with the proceeds going to an organization working to fight trafficking through selling jewelry made by trafficking survivors. It was something, but it didn't feel like enough.
I then went back to school to get my teaching credential. And for one of my student teaching assignments I was placed in a low income school, with a group of students struggling to keep up with their peers. Language barriers, impossible home environments, and other issues that 9 year olds should never have to deal with. I fell in love with these kids...and I didn’t know how to help.
Not a solution, but something.
I started to realize there was a pattern forming here. There are more issues in the world than you'll know what to do with, that will absolutely wreck you. And you most likely won't have a solution. While our life’s work might not end up directly fighting one or all of these issues, that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands in defeat saying, ”Well, someone out there is doing something about it.”
Everything we’re being told right now revolves around more likes, more photos…and now, more stories...buy more stuff (for cheaper than ever!), get more followers, wanting more choices, more recognition, more money. There's nothing inherently wrong with more of this, but It’s about what makes ME feel good, what I think is important, what’s in it for me.
Let me be clear, I couldn’t agree more with the importance of self care, self love, self empowerment, and equality. But focusing outside yourself by gaining new perspectives, meeting the needs of others, giving back, and losing yourself in the joy of supporting those around you is crucial in truly caring for you.
So we look for small ways of making a difference. Because these small choices add up to a life focused on more than just ourselves. It becomes about seeing others shine. We keep our eyes open for opportunities to impact another, and sometimes we choose what’s difficult over what’s easy, cheap, and only benefits us.
To me, that’s living purposefully. It takes effort, but it’s so very worth it.