How to Create Change Even If You’re Not a Traditional Activist
I recently attended the 20th anniversary celebration of Democracy Now, an independent news show led and hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Democracy Now has brought unbiased news stories for two decades and asked the tough questions of leaders, politicians and citizens alike. Not surprisingly, this celebration gathered a community of passionate activists. Sitting in a pew at the Riverside Church around the corner from Columbia University, I sat still and absorbed their fire like energy around and into me. I listened to people hooting and hollering, yelling their support and their frustration equally as loud. As moved as I felt there was something I also understood in that moment:
This isn’t me.
Let me explain: I deeply care about issues and want to make the world a better place, really, I do. But am I an activist in the traditional sense of the word? I don’t think I am. I left wondering if the way that I make my mark is enough! And I realized that I’m not the only one that finds themselves stuck somewhere in the middle of empathy and activism.
So, where do we place ourselves to actually make a change that feels authentic? I’d like to share some ideas with you, my Beyond Mom Community of powerful women, about finding your unique way to make a difference. I want to encourage you not to become passive just because you don’t identify as a traditional activist. There are so many ways to make your mark but you must stay open to it. Here’s some tips that are helping me:
Put yourself in the midst of people who inspire you.
Though I’m not a marching protestor at heart, I love being in the midst of these kinds of people. Why? Because they get me fired up! And we all need to get fired up about what we care about. We’ve gotten a little lazy over time (let’s admit it) so allow your spirit to be stoked by those who are marching, speaking, and singing. Soak it in and see how it mixes with your own perspectives.
Stay open to your own solutions.
Rather than spending too much time doubting your own ability to give back or make some change, instead stay open to ideas. In my case, I create content and host events in the hopes of reminding women (and particularly moms) that they can create what they dream of (personally and professionally). So each day I feel like I’m giving back in ways that naturally come to me. How can you naturally give?
Get involved in organizations doing what you believe in.
You don’t always have to lead a group but you sure can participate in making a group stronger. I want to help women in a way that makes a gigantic difference, right here in my own city of New York. I am on a board for the New York Women’s Foundation, raising money to fund small, local organizations that help the most vulnerable of women in my own city. I also donate all my baby stuff to a fabulous organization called NYC Mamas Give Back, a group of moms who collect and distribute baby items to homeless and impoverished women who are pregnant or new moms (listen to our podcast interview with them!). I feel so good about my contributions to both these organizations and know that my efforts make a difference.
Kindness is key.
I had the privilege of catching an interview on The Today Show recently with Lady Gaga. She reminded me through her work with teenagers that being kind is not only something we can all do, but something that makes a giant impact and has an expansive ripple effect. Your kindness reminds everyone you come into contact with of what is possible. Your kindness reminds others how worthy they are of that kindness. Your kindness reminds strangers and loved ones alike how good it feels to be treated that way. And more than likely, each person touched by you, will then be kind to someone else. We can certainly become overwhelmed by the ignorance in the world but what if we simply proceeded each day with a commitment to kindness? With this intention, there is no need to feel powerless. You will and should feel like super woman.
2017 can be a good year if we all dig deep and find our unique path toward change. If we become paralyzed by what we are not, well, we’ll stay right where we are. Instead let’s use our unique gifts as well as our motivated community to move forward and toward a better world, one deep down, we know we can make possible.
Originally published at beyondmom.com on March 8, 2017.