When I look in the mirror, I know what I'm supposed to do. I guess I've always known it to an extent. What I'm supposed to do has never wavered but the means of how has changed throughout the years as can be evidenced on my bookshelves. I'm supposed to help. sounds simple enough, right? Well, the manifestations of how you can help are so broad that I've gone down a few different paths.
Path #1: Anthropology
You may be asking yourself how the hell anthropology helps anyone? In high school I wanted to travel, learn about different cultures, and write about them to bring awareness and acceptance across the world of different ways of living life. I would write books showing how cultures were different, but also how they were the same and the inherent beauty in each. When I found out this was actually a subject you could study I was ecstatic. Anthropology was my major for a while in college until I realized there were better ways I could impact my world. As I studied it, it seemed like I was a few decades too late to the party, so I moved on. I still adore the subject, but know it's not my life's work.
Path #2: Sociology
My next college major (coupled with Psychology) and basically what I graduated with: the study of societies. Another subject that fascinates me is how our society works, all the bits and pieces that make it run well and poorly. How people are affected by and can affect their society. Wicked awesome stuff. I have always been passionate about those in our country who live in poverty and this major really cultivated that passion even more. Our welfare system in the U.S. is horrendously mismanaged and was a bandaid solution that has outlasted it's effectiveness by decades. We could do so much better, yet we are not taking the time to put the right people in a room to focus on the right things. Coming from the corporate world this drives me insane. We could be doing more for the poor to get them back on their feet while cutting funding and yet we just sit with the same broken system.
I have read countless books on the subjects and it is a multi-faceted, super complicated issue to resolve, but with the amount of intelligent, discerning people we have in this country I know we could solve it over the next few decades. It breaks my heart that no one sees it as important enough to tackle though. If we took a new approach, put together short term and long term plans, we could eliminate a lot of economic strain not only on our government, but also on those in need. We can do better! [Can you tell I'm passionate about this one?]
I haven't touched this subject in a while because my focus shifted to my own personal life that needed help. I had to learn how to help myself and ask for help in my times of need. That was a journey that took a few years, one that I'm still on.
Path #3: To Infinity & Beyond?
So I haven't figured this one out yet. I still know that I want to help, to make a positive impact on my world, but I have no clear direction to go right now. Maybe my reach is supposed to be much smaller than I originally thought. I started with a worldwide scope, then moved to a nationwide scope, so maybe my scope needs to be closer to home this time. Maybe it's up to me to inspire the guy who inspires a thousand guys. Maybe my impact is in raising two amazingly awesome boys who leave their positive mark on this world with me rooting them on the whole way. Or maybe it's being a pillar of support for one person I meet in Al Anon or elsewhere as they struggle through a loved ones addiction.
I may never know what my true path is, why exactly I'm here. But I'm not going to let that keep me from moving forward, from leaving a positive mark, from helping. Whether it be pet-sitting for a friend, going that extra mile with my kids even when I'm running on empty, or easing a coworkers workload when they're super busy, I will always be here, quietly helping away, because that is what I'm meant to do. I'm meant to be a helper.