For the past year, I’ve been wrestling with the notion of getting those around me to care about a social issue, any social issue. Over coffee dates, workshops, team meetings the night before a final exam, I’ve met and re-met with like–minded individuals trying to brainstorm ways in which to get Gen Y to take ownership of leadership for the sake of the world. Only recently have I realized the selfish motives in convincing others to be passionate about my passions.
I met (the very charming) Sol Guy at the 2008 Impact National Conference. With shaking knees and blushing cheeks, I asked him how to get people around me to care? And Sol, in all his wisdom, told me this, “You just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry about everybody else, they’ll come later, but for now, just keep going.”
The truth is, what I’m passionate about may not be exactly what you are passionate about. In fact, you may never be passionate about the issues in which I am. And it’s taken awhile, but I think that’s ok. I’ve experienced the difficulty in getting people to care about any sort of social issue, so how much more the social issues that I’m passionate about? This does not mean I’ll stop advocating for the 1.1 billion citizens of the Earth that lack clean water (I will engage in that conversation given the most miniscule opportunity), but I’ve moved from over-zealously trying to convince, to trying to inspire.
I embarked on my ultimate graduation trip to Malawi this summer and met a well-educated 20-something Malawian. She told me that her sister was in Canada and when asked if she planned on joining her, she smiled softly and replied “No, because if I don’t help Malawi, who will?” And in the exchange of that simple sentence, I too was convinced that I should also help Malawi. Not because she gave me a comprehensive lesson outlining the economic hardships of the small nation, but because in the simple exchange of that sentence, I saw her passion and was inspired. I saw that whether people joined her along the way or not, she was going to continue to do what she was doing.
Alice Walker said “Activism is my rent for living on this planet”. Activism, like rent, is not optional. It should not depend on the person next door paying their rent as well. And so this is why I’m deciding to “Be the Change”, because I’ve been living for free my whole life. I’m going to be the change by inspiring, not convincing, and just doing what I’m doing in hopes that one day, my rent will be paid off.
Kristina Lugo is 22-year-old new grad recently venturing into the corporate world. She just started a new blog and tweets @kristinalugo. She loves travelling, photography, sushi, and london fogs. One day she hopes to combine her passions for math and international development and start a social venture.