Two years ago, a writer I know showed up to one of our Studio sessions looking pretty glum. As one of the editors of her high school’s literary magazine, she was nothing short of disgusted by the behavior that some of her fellow editors were exhibiting. Having crowned themselves the school’s elite writers, they had taken it upon themselves to stand in harsh judgment of their peers, mocking the work that others submitted, and making their selections for publication in a pretty ruthless way.
At the time, she was ready to quit. Instead, she decided to advocate for change. She suggested that they adopt better protocols for looking at student work, and she even did a bit of homework to find one that worked. Some supported her. For a time, things began to function a bit better, although the change that she inspired was far less dramatic than she intended or hoped for.
This year, she’s found herself standing at the same crossroads again. Things aren’t going as well as she hoped they would, and she’s assessing her options and deciding how she might proceed. Some of her friends describe her as discouraged. She claims she’s simply resigned. I hope she doesn’t feel that she’s failed in her attempt to inspire change.
But what if she does?
Is that a bad thing?
Does this mean her effort doesn’t count?
That we can’t be inspired by her?
That she didn’t make a difference of some sort?
That her efforts were wasted?
I know that many people who are working toward change have stories like this to share, and I know that others–especially those like this young woman–might be inspired if they read those stories. Sure, they might be different from the glory-filled tales of those seasoned souls who have moved mountains to influence great big change for masses of people, but that’s okay. In a lot of ways, I think these other stories are even better, and I wish more people were writing them, because it certainly seems like more and more people are living them. What do you know about change that looks and feels like this? What story would you share with this young woman?