When I started university, I did so with an eye towards a career in counselling/social work. I wanted to help people. I had the skills to be good at it, too.
But, a year-and-a-bit in, I realized that field wasn’t for me. Everything I was hearing from my textbooks and teachers didn’t fit with my worldview, and, what was worse, I felt like I didn’t matter. Like I had no place in this world of statistics and averages. I switched majors, and have since graduated with a degree in English and Contemporary Studies. I kept the Psych credits as a minor.
But that didn’t keep me from helping people. I might not have the emotional resources or personality for social work, and I might not have the ability to volunteer, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made a difference in people’s lives. I have. Everyday activism, the small things, they count too. I’ve made a point to be a resource, a judgement-free place to seek advice or vent for LGBTQ+ youth that I know. I’ve made a point to reach out, make myself available when I hear that there are friends or friends-of-friends in crisis. I call out my friends and family members on behaviour that isn’t okay — I refuse to stay quiet about rape jokes, slut-shaming, misogyny, and other forms of prejudice. I do little things like remind myself to be pleasant and patient with customer service workers, prevent that random blind guy from walking into something, or helping someone out when they’ve got their hands full and are trying to get a door open.
And I don’t do those things as some sort of “good deed for the day”, because I’m trying to assuage guilt, or stock up on good karma. I do those things because I genuinely wish the world were a better place, and if I want it to be less shitty, leading by example is a decent way to start. Maybe I’m just one person, and maybe I don’t have the pull to make big changes for the better. But there’s nothing stopping me from doing those little things, and they count, too.
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.