Here I am...just a few exams away from completing my first year of college. It’s all so fresh that I’m still trying to wrap my head around the past few months. Yes I have gotten less sleep, yes I’ve had to lay aside my dying need to always be perfect, and yes teachers have placed me out of my comfort zone. But overall, it’s been an experience like no other and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The past few months I’ve really been thinking about what I want to do with my life and how I want to leave an impact on the world (the world doesn’t have to be every continent, it can simply be the people you’re in relation with). Of course I’m an aspiring writer but I’ve definitely realized how strongly I feel compelled to bring change around me to issues or injustices.

In short, the work of an activist is someone who strives to bring change to either political or social issues/injustices. For a while I believed that I had to have a huge platform and following for me to be considered an “activist”. But then it dawned on me that if the work of an activist is to bring change I can easily do that just by speaking up in any arena.

What better arena for a college student then the classroom? For those of you who know me personally, you know my passion for debating and researching in an effort for bringing positive change to the status quo. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to take debate this semester, I was able to take public speaking.

Public speaking has for sure been my favorite class this semester as I get to implement a lot of the techniques I was taught in debate. We were given the assignment of getting into small groups and brainstorming a topic we’d like to have a panel discussion on in front of the entire class. After our group brainstormed pretty much every topic imaginable, we came to a consensus on actually one of my ideas! We would be discussing how social issues have become trends over time.

I could already list probably 20 issues off the top of my head that I knew had become trendy for the sake of staying relevant in my generation. As someone who wants to do even more activism work in the future I stressed the dire effects the situation of social issues only being trends had on the history, present, and future of activism.

We must not dilute the severity of injustices with selfish gain. Thinking of all who have come before me and laid their life down fighting for what they believed in, I would never want to dishonor their legacy with a need for likes on social media or a round of applause from my peers. This is something I wish everyone understood.

All too often I see celebrities, corporations, social elites, and even people I know using the pain and suffering of others to elevate their status. Whether it’s using hashtags for movements you don’t actually advocate for offline or playing along with the extreme ends of a social issue (“femi-nazis” for instance), all these things have negative consequences.

I think it's important that we all find that thing that we are truly passionate about and run with it. Everyone has something that tugs on their heart a little more than other things. As for me I’m still trying to find a balance between all of my passions. There’s a lot that I see wrong and wish that I could fix but I know it’s not my place to try and fix EVERYTHING.

With all of that “said”, I leave you with the word authenticity. For if we are authentic with the things that matter in the world, we will never delve into the dangerous territory of being trendy. Behind every movement there are lives and souls at stake. Consider that the next time you pick up your phone or open your mouth with the intention of wanting to boost your image or being trendy.