Finding and Following My Dreams

It’s been far too long since my last post. Other things that need attending to always seem to crop up. Even if that is just lying in bed for a morning in paralysis over where to begin dealing with all the things on my mind. 

Before this semester started, I had about half a week of utter paralysis and associated panic. I felt thoroughly unprepared for the onslaught of school work, people, and extra-curricular excitement. Reading Quiet, by Susan Cain, made me realise that perhaps the inner introvert in me hadn’t had nearly enough time to recover from being at Enactus nationals conference at the start of the holidays, and then working at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival every other day. I was meeting all these amazing people, and being pulled in a billion different directions, I can hardly process anything. Instead, I took to lying on my bedroom floor and letting the myriad of things on my mind fight each other into white silence, or disappearing into a book for many hours, or scrolling rather mindlessly through my tumblr dashboard.

Thankfully, things are a little better now. I ventured out of my house got myself a pep-talk and some pseudo-advice; made some lists to sort out my life, and now I’ve finally come back to blogging. I most definitely over-committed to things, and perhaps the best thing I have done for myself recently is learn to peel myself out of commitments without excessive guilt. Classes are not exhilarating, and I’m behind already in Macroeconomics and Mathematical Economics but I think I’ll save the panic for mid-semester break. The Melbourne Writers Festival opens this THURSDAY!!! I can’t believe it’s finally here and though I love working with everyone in the office, I think I’ll be quite relieved when it’s all over and I have two days of my week back to myself.

I’ve been reading, and learning a lot more about high impact giving and effective philanthropy. It’s been wonderfully inspiring and enlightening and has got me thinking about what little thing about the world I want to change. Last week, I ran for president of the Melbourne University Enactus team but the team chose someone else’s vision and leadership for the next year. To say I wasn’t disappointed would be lying, but on the bright side, it allows me to pursue other opportunities to develop myself. While reading It Ain’t What You Give, It’s the Way that You Give It, by Caroline Fiennes, I’ve been thinking about the change I’d most like to see in the world. I think I would like to live in a future where intelligent, efficient and real impact is valued over simple good-will in the not-for-profit sector. I’d like people to be able to have a career, and earn a living in the third sector reflective of the time, skill and energy they put into their work. To this end, I’m working on starting a new student organisation for students interested in giving their time in the most meaningful way, students who are interested in not just volunteering their time and skills to any charity but one which actually has proven impact, a clear theory of change, as well as the ability to effectively utilise and develop the skills of volunteers and employees alike. I challenge the idea that volunteer and charity organisations must inherently be inefficient and tokenistic. Of course, changing the nature of charitable organisations isn’t exactly an easy task, or even one I would have dreamed of approaching a year ago.

Yet, a lot can change in a year. Just under a year ago, I went to the Enactus World Cup in Washington DC. It was the experience which inspired my passion for social change and social entrepreneurship. This summer, I met someone who has turned my life upside down but has also changed my view of the world in so many ways. In April, I was fortunate enough to stumble into an volunteer internship at the Melbourne Writers Festival under the most loveliest coordinator, who didn’t tell me what to do but instead what needed doing and let me take control of the how. The things I learnt are probably quite trivial in retrospect but I think some of my fondest memories will be of the quiet moments of triumph when my spreadsheets finally did what I wanted them to, or when I mail merged over 120 sponsor ticketing letters with no mistakes. Then I was even more fortunate to meet Will (hi if you’re reading this) and the rest of the team working on Now, I’m working on things for clarity, starting this student organisation and learning a bit of code on the side (and meeting a few more awesome people in the third half of my time thanks to Founders Dozen).

However, the most important thing about this entire journey is that I’ve constantly been reminded that I am capable of anything, though not everything. I’m reminded that in a world where almost anything is possible, it’s not what you do but why you do that is important. In world of infinite possibilities, my worst enemy is myself and the limits that I allow self-doubt to place on my dreams. How strange is it that freedom should create fear, but perhaps it is our addiction to certainty which generates this paralysis. Perhaps that is the downfall of traditional education. It hands you a map, with beautifully decorated paths littered with tests and awards for those who navigate the path with the most ease. At the very end of this map is graduation, after which you are promised happiness, success and accomplishment (that is, before the workplace begins to dictate your life). The only issue is, the real world extends beyond what we can map and so I’m trying to learn how to draw my own maps, and even survive without a map. I want to live happily taking my own unique journey through an uncertain reality. I’m starting to have an idea of where I want my journey to lead, and I am eternally grateful for all the people around me who have believed in me, who have questioned why and what I want to do, when I might have settled for just what was easy for me to do. Thank you for all your words of encouragement.

P.S. Thanks to anyone still reading despite my lack of consistent posts…

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