I work and speak with kids on a daily basis. My dream has always been to figure out how you can mesh creativity with community in a way where the only limit to our impact is ourselves and our commitment to change. Finding a way to implement a vast network of thinkers of all ages into my workflow has been the biggest blessing. Prior to investing myself into community, I've always felt like my work was formulaic. Now speaking and interacting with such a diverse range of people, I find my understanding for others and myself improving simultaneously. My level of empathy is impacted on various levels. I'm constantly reminded of how I grew up through the kids I work with. It humbles me, and I stay close to my story and in turn that helps me help them. On the other end, entering rooms I would have never expected, I was challenged with picking up on their thought process immediately. That quick learning curve has enabled me to see how people think outside of the way I grew up and what I do with that is bring back the positive and share these gems with the youth because my dream is for them to be better than me. If I can be mindful and caring towards them and exemplify the idea of giving back - when they become better than me, I don't ask for anything. I just ask that they make the same time my team and I did for them, in their own way so the notion of paying it forward stays strong and continually develops. These voices have all contributed to mine in such unique ways, that now I take pride in my understanding and my ability to communicate and advocate for the future.
My additional thoughts:
It's important for everyone to stop and ask themselves what they wish was there while they were growing up, so that either when or along the way - the time and effort is made to improve and reshape those experiences for the next generation so their path is a bit smoother than ours was. Everyone can give back, and the approach to that needs to be personal. We all need to be self-invested into addressing our specific traumas and/or experiences. Whether it be with one person close to home, or for the masses. That energy is what we need to dive deep into, to make change in this world.