I’ve noticed that when I give a talk on the circular economy or about using art to market sustainability, that the young professionals and students arise and want to know how to do this work, how to get involved. These questions have happened so much that I’m writing a short book to share what I’ve learned. It’s tragic that we have people at the ready to make a difference, to work for equality, ecological health, and holistic systems and they don’t feel like they can find an open door. I’ve been there, and we can’t afford to lose their passion to discouragement.
In my wild wiggly path of doing this work, three things have kept me going navigating the uncharted waters of applied sustainability and social change.
- Being comfortable with the uncertainty. We are constantly asked, “What do you do?” “ What are you doing?” Sometimes we are blazing new trails and we don’t know where they are going to lead. Sometimes, what we think we are doing and what actually happens are different, and we learn a huge thing that shows us a new path. Having the perspective that we are accumulating experiences that will lead to something is what we are doing. Try to train yourself to be okay with not knowing, otherwise, you will spend years being angsty which blocks you from seeing opportunities.
- Self Assurance To do this work and move it forward into the “straight world” (aka corporate, industrial, religious context) you must have a fierce inner bravery and assurance that you are on the right path for you and you are creating the world you want to see no matter how small or insignificant the rewards may be from the outside. You must have an inner validation and / or supportive friends or family that really see you, and support your vision. Don’t compare yourself to your peers that are taking more traditional routes, this breeds envy or bitterness and is a distraction from the work you are committed to doing. The world is so much more receptive to this kind of work and there are many people that are doing it so reach out to the right groups and rock on!
- Self Discovery + Niche Finding Out of college we are pumped with idealism and ideas of others, and this lights the fires of passion that are going to take you far, however, this has to be linked to practical skills and with getting to know yourself and what you love. Sustainability, holism, equality can be applied to anything which is why you must discover what niches or topics you want to apply your passion for creating a healthier world. This takes experiences, time, and listening to yourself and observing when you feel joy, flow, and peace with what you are doing. To find what you love and which niche you find yourself in, you can start by getting out there and trying out things, take classes, volunteer, apply for jobs, all of this will help you develop practical skills you can use. Be open about your values of sustainability, social justice, etc. to your colleagues and superiors in a way that is not preachy. Use your skills and experience with your passion for conscious actions to start shifting and creating what you want to see in the world. I’ve found that doing this work and still being able to pay rent requires you meld practical skills that people need with your passion. Ground your idealism into the practical earth and provide conscious value to the situations you discover you love.
If you are a student or young professional reading this, please email me your questions. I’m working on a book for you and want to make sure you get what you need. Visit ecocreativestrategies.com to connect.