An Emotional Rollercoaster: The feelings associated with changing the world

Let me just say: I am terrible at blogging. I keep all my thoughts bottled up in my busy little brain. But what good is that? This country (and most of the world) wasn’t built up by people who kept their ideas to themselves. And, if I really want to make a difference in this world, I need to SPEAK UP. That being said, I am not getting any less busy. I recently started working on a PhD (because I am crazy and obsessed with school). I also have the most perfect job that I sometimes pretend I’m married to. That helps me justify the amount of time I spend working on proposals, emails, research, and falling asleep at my desk with my eyes open. I’m working for my school’s Department of University Housing specifically on sustainability. Can you say “perfect”? Because it is. It’s the perfect job for this point in my career and I feel like I can truly make a difference over the course of the next two and a half years. This means I have to make sacrifices so that I can do things like sleep. In other words, blogging is not a priority. But here goes:

I go through severe highs and lows of inspiration. On the low days, I’m really low. On the high days, I’m really high. That sounded bad, but you know what I mean. It’s just that I feel the strangest desire to actually change the world. I know there are a lot of quotes about it out there (“Be the change…” and so on), but I honestly wake up every morning and think–for some crazy reason–that I actually can change the world. It’s narcism at it’s finest and worst simultaneously, I know. But it’s also the fire forcing me to keep moving, even with all the negativity, hatred, and destruction in the world.

I recently attended the 2013 Conference for the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. To say I was inspired would be a giant understatement. I spent hours during the conference sessions, between them, and during breaks writing little notes and to-do lists. Start a bottled water ban. Educate people about recycling. Only allow local food at programs. The ideas were flowing like a river and piling up quickly. I was inspired to create, implement, propose, act. I was ready to go back to my office with a new sense of direction and motivation. But that’s when things got scary. How am I going to do all this on my own? I thought. Who the fuck is going to help me? I said to myself as my inspiration slowly turned into fear.

Luckily, I am oustanding at making lists and multi-tasking. I spent my first day back in the office crossing things off my list–both big and small tasks. I scheduled five important meetings. I wrote two big proposals. And I wrote a to-do list to put all others to shame. Yes, I feel extremely overwhelemed with all the things I want to do. But it’s that overwhelming, scary feeling that is motivating me to keep pushing. And I’m only one person. I can’t change the world in a day–probably not in 1,000,000 days. But I can certainly change one person’s world. Maybe even a handful of people.

Today I watched Gasland. It was terrifying. If you haven’t watched it yet, have a sedative or a bottle of wine on hand and get to it. It’s wonderful, but also completely eye-opening, which in most cases is ideal. But in this case, it was depressing and horrifying. The concept of Hydraulic Fracturing was always so foreign and far away from me. Gasland brought it closer to me and–to be honest–slapped me in the face with it. I guess that’s the whole point of a documentary, but man! I am just all sorts of emotional about this stuff. But does my stress mean I have to add “Fix all environmental problems” to my giant to-do list? I thought about it. I even had my awesome Sharpie pen ready to write it down, but then I remembered something. Something that I have even mentioned already in this very blog post: I am only one person.

Remembering this calmed me down, but only slightly. I’m still beyond angry about some of the environmental problems that continue to worsen while government officials and big businesses look the other way and pay people off. I’m still going to get upset about every documentary and news story I see. And I’m still going to wake up every morning thinking I can change the world. But when my feelings of anger, sadness, depression, and shock rise to the surface, I need to surpress them with feelings of accomplishment, inspiration, and excitement. Because even though my impact is small and I am only one person, I am one person who is working every day to affect the small population I am lucky to work with.

This is the emotional rollercoast I ride daily. I start the day feeling extremely insprired or extremely depressed and I work to balance myself out with the work I do for the students I am serving. This balance is something that I hope to perfect and carry with me throughout my career in sustainability and environmental education. It is the balance that will keep me levelheaded so I don’t turn into one of those people who gets arrested for chaining herself to a tree (although I am certainly not above that). Controlling my emotions so that I am the perfect level of inspiring and scary-angry may just be exactly what I need to change the world.

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2 thoughts on “An Emotional Rollercoaster: The feelings associated with changing the world

  1. Jane,
    You never fail to surprise me. Dad and I are committed to helping you achieve your goals. We are using the extra paper trash can you set up for us, recycling all the mail and yes, bottles, using less water and so on.
    Here are a few inspirational quotes from two amazing humanitarians:
    “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly” Robert F Kennedy
    “Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible” Albert Einstein
    Oh, and one from me, your biggest fan-
    “The older I get, the more I see the power and strength of my daughter and I am motivated to be a better human being”.

    Pass this along to everyone you know and they can make a difference too.

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