Back in college, I was the girl with plans to change the world.
I shoved up my peace sign and pummeled my friends with bits and pieces of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child before trotting off to some 180-page report on sustainability in Malaysia that needed my reading eyes before bed.
And so, it only seemed appropriate when a girl like me, on fire and ready to rattle the cages of Injustice, trotted off to start my new job at the United Nations.
I basked in that first day, the flashing of my bright blue, holographic pass, and marveled at the building where Change Happened and Things Got Done.
No turning back.
The United Nations was my cake. And I was so darn hungry. So I gobbled, gobbled, gobbled: trafficking for breakfast & girls’ edu for lunch & microfinance for dinner. And then got sick. To my stomach. From eating too much. And not knowing. Just. How. To. Digest…. that change was a slow thing and not always an overnight slumber party buddy.
“This place only works for the ones who can be o.k. with baby steps,” a woman told me one morning. And she left to be angry, wringing my fists over orphans who needed me and an Unchangeable World.
And so, slowly & so sneakily, Doubt pulled out a stool and ordered a coffee in the cafe of my soul. And then another. And another.
But let’s be truthful. It was really Mark Zuckerberg who kissed me on the forehead and sealed my silence.
Yes, six girls. And my own Facebook status that shut me up for good:
“If I have only one quality for the rest of my life I hope that it is foolish… Foolish enough to think that I can make a difference in this world and then go out and do the things that others say cannot be done..”
They mocked it one by one. Skittering from page to page to laugh & “like” & make fun of me before defriending me. One. By One. By One.
And I decided then that Silence was better. Indifference was easier. And if you said nothing at all then no one would expect anything of you. And if you just shut up then the world would never know that your skin once thought it was made for World Changing.
I’d forgotten all of this until tonight. Until the preacher on the stage. Until his message on Salt. Of all things, salt. Leaving my mouth watered with a severe ache for french fries, he spoke of the Bible Days when Salt was more valued than petroleum. Where salt was so very good and people never took it for granted. To have salt in one’s home was a Very Big Deal.
His hands rose up as he spoke of how we, as Little Pencils in a Far Grander Love Letter, are called to be salt. Shakers in this world. Hungry for justice. Hungry for a difference. Hungry to Change the World.
And I licked my lips and thought: Yes, I am hungry. For girls with arms full of textbooks. For boys who put down their guns and run back to the schoolyard. For college students who emerge out into the world with an ache to change it and then get ambushed by the Doubt in the cafe. And the Doubt in the cubicle. And the Doubt in the media. And so they listen to statistics and they do a job they never grew a passion for, and ten years or twenty years later, they’re still thinking, “I would have really liked to change the world.”
And sincerely, I’ve grown tired: of not talking about it enough. Of not filling more notebooks with the hope of it all. Of not wanting to call it “World-Changing” because the very word has felt narcissistic & self-absorbed & impossible since the day I placed it into a Facebook status and then ached to wash it away with a swift backspace.
But no more, cause we’re talking. No more, cause we’re seeing and we’re saying that this world is very broken. Her legs are mangled. Her mind is messed. And Once Upon a Time, we wanted to be doctors so let’s just pull out the plastic stethoscope, get real close to hear Beating, Bleeding Heart, and listen for a while.
And no more, cause we’re meeting. Gathering in tea shops & brunch on Amsterdam Avenue. In pools of social networking sites where we’ve all convinced once another that the Waters of World Shaking feel just fine so you better dive in. Doggy paddle if you got to, but Just. Jump. In.
And no more, cause I’m ready. To be a girl who doesn’t look back. And a girl who leaves her salt all over this whole place. And her breadcrumbs. And her Whole Entire Being if it means that someone Gonna Find the Light. Gonna Go to School. Gonna Break the Chains. Gonna Do their Part.
Baby, baby, I’ll pull up a stool. I’ll sit right beside you and I’ll ask you out loud, “Do you want to change the world?” And if you answer yes, I’ll finally find the words to say it.
“Yes… Me Too.”
That last line was inspired by my BOMB.com, space cadet of a friend who isn’t really a space cadet but rather a poet who has stood by side in learning the art of butt kicking. Her name is Azure Antoinette. #Cupcake. She was just signed into a contract with ABC Family yesterday. I am more proud than a mother watching her triplets graduate from Law School. And Azure, this post is for you. I’m not tired anymore.