Making a Difference, Even When Times Are Tough
When I was a kid, I had some pretty lofty dreams about making a massive difference in the world. I wanted to become a successful surgeon slash singer slash movie director with a charity of some sort that I would call The Dana Delgado Foundation.
Of course, later on, I would have to accept that my talents didn’t exactly meet the prerequisites of becoming a surgeon slash singer slash movie director. And, I would also grow up to become a tired adult juggling a million jobs and budgeting my income to the last cent.
We all want to make a change in the world, but the reality is that half the time, we’re also just trying to get by. We might think about how much money and power someone needs to have in order to even make a dent and become so discouraged that we decide to just leave it to those who seem to have the actual means to bring about any real change.
But, not being able to fulfill our lofty dreams doesn’t mean there’s absolutely nothing we can do. Even when times are tough, we continue to have the power within us to contribute and put our good intentions into practice. There are so many small but meaningful ways to create positive change in our community, and those small acts send ripples that reverberate beyond our shores.
Equipping Ourselves to Help Others
It’s true that we can’t pour from an empty cup. I remember having conversations with friends about how guilty I felt for being too wrapped up in my personal life to go to protests and actually make my voice heard. Add to that the fact that I am now living with chronic pain and participating the way I would prefer just seems a lot more challenging.
I’ve come to accept that fighting the good fight takes personal commitment and resources and that because my personal resources are finite, I have to pick my battles.
My efforts are often small and quiet, but I do my best to make them count. I equip and enrich myself by learning — and unlearning. I try to learn as much as I can about the realities of communities beyond my own and unlearn any harmful ideas that society taught me to believe. I try to learn as much as I can about my own history and the histories of the communities I identify with. I ask people questions, especially those whom I feel might have important insights I could learn from.
Perhaps most importantly, I engage with people I find inspiring. Passion is contagious. When I’m too tired and disillusioned to want to care, I look for people who do, and I let their work remind me why it’s important to keep trying.
Finding Ways to Show Support
I was finishing my college thesis when a typhoon hit and submerged most of the city, leaving hundreds either dead or displaced. I was living on my own, northeast of the city, and as I anxiously watched the downpour outside my window, my social media feed was quickly filling up with calls for donations and volunteers.
It didn’t make sense to spend my time stressing out about a paper when people outside were losing their homes. After asking my professor to push back my deadline, I spent the next few days helping volunteer groups pack relief kits for people who had been evacuated.
These days, because I’m no longer as physically equipped to do the same type of volunteer work, I try to show my support in other ways. Every time I declutter, I set aside some clothes to donate. When there’s a chance to collaborate with people whose work I believe in, I take it.
But, perhaps one of the simplest yet most powerful ways I know I can support my advocacies is to be mindful about where my money goes. I try to support small businesses (one of my favorite shops sells accessories made from fabrics woven by indigenous weaving communities in the Philippines), independent shops, and local producers whenever I can. After all, where we spend our money is one of the most concrete ways to make an impact on the world.
Striving for Excellence in Daily Life
I’ve always believed that if I want to raise the bar and somehow leave a better world for the next generations, I need to do my best to excellently live my own personal life. I try to hold myself accountable to make good choices each time I’m presented with the opportunity.
My day job is editing all types of written content for the web. Every time a piece of content is sent to me for editing, I am given the power to make any final changes to it. It’s not a whole lot of power, but it’s power that I try to use as responsibly as I can.
If I come across a piece of content that contains anything that misrepresents or excludes marginalized communities, then it’s my job to fix it. If I am unsure about the language that someone is using, I do some reading and share my learnings with the editors I supervise so that we don’t make the same mistake again.
We all have different things we feel strongly about and wish to fight for. We, likewise, all have the power to fight for them no matter our means. There are opportunities, big and small, to make a difference. We just have to use whatever power and influence we have in our day-to-day lives, and together we can make that dent.