It May Not Always Be Visible, But You Have An Impact

It May Not Always Be Visible, But You Have An Impact

It can be tiring putting our best foot forward each day when we don't know where it's taking us or if it is making a difference.

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Today I stood in a room surrounded by holiday gifts for 477 individuals in the Washington, DC community. Before my eyes, I saw the tangible impact in the last four months of my work to plan a holiday gift giving event for my university. It is truly amazing to see your work pay off in the form of something physical.

But sometimes being left with a tangible representation of your work is not possible.

This is not an easy pill to swallow. You wonder if the hours upon hours of work you put in produces anything at all. There are plenty of thankless tasks that we do each day, but we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that all of those tasks are for no reason.

In American society, I think sometimes we struggle with properly showing our appreciation for what others do for us. We don't often think of the time it might take for someone to do something, so we may just half-heartedly say "Thanks," if we say anything at all. As someone who appreciates gratitude and feedback about the work I do, not receiving any verbal form of gratitude or even critique can be difficult. I silently hope that what I did was enough or fulfilled what was expected of me. It can be hard to keep yourself self-assured that you are doing the right thing.

But until someone says "no" or "stop" or provides any sort of critique or feedback we should just keep on doing what we are doing. Because a small task that could be passed off as the bare minimum or just something to do could be seen as going the extra mile to someone else.

This is because another flaw in American culture is the desire to receive something as proof of our effort. This is seen a lot in community service if people go out and do a day of service, many go in with the expectation of seeing the direct impact of their service. If they don't see that impact, they may feel disappointed when in reality it can be the least visible things that are the most impactful.

There is a TED talk that much more eloquently describes the point I am trying to make. Drew Dudley presented a TED Talk on "Everyday Leadership" or what I like to call lollipop moments.

Dudley describes how during college orientation when he was volunteering and handing out lollipops as part of the orientation festivities, he saw a girl who was visibly upset standing in a line. Dudley went to the boy who was standing behind this girl and handed the boy a lollipop and told him to give it to the girl in front of him.

It was a small act of kindness. It is one wherein the moment you might walk away with a warm feeling that quickly fades and then you don't think much of the event afterword. In Dudley's case, his gesture created an impact he never would have imagined.

Years later, Dudley received a wedding invitation. It was announcing the wedding of the boy and girl in line. That lollipop from Dudley started a long-term relationship that led to a marriage.

These are the moments Dudley calls lollipop moments, the moments that can pass without recognition, yet still, have large impacts. Dudley argues that this is the mentality we should have as we go about our lives every day.

Being leaders through the smallest of actions. A smile, a hug, a compliment, an interaction over the phone, a simple favor. These are things that don't take much, in fact, I am sure you already do some of these things every day already.

So, if you are already doing these things, why am I telling you to do them? Because we can all be reminded of this sometimes. We may get caught up for competing for the biggest piece of recognition or searching for some tangible evidence that proves to us that we are making a difference, but our impact is often invisible, and that is okay.

In the meantime, a small moment of leadership you can take is gratitude. Showing others that you are grateful for them and their actions can go a long way. I am sure when you are thanked for doing something it makes your bucket a little fuller, so go ahead and fill another person's bucket with your thanks and gratitude.

All of these things are very interconnected. Often, we neglect to let people know their work is appreciated and having an impact. But we have to be mindful that the biggest impacts may go unspoken or realized for quite some time. In turn, though, we can remind people they are appreciated by showing our gratitude for what they do for us and being leaders in our everyday actions.

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Why I Didn't Want to Post a Life Update on Facebook

But the results of doing so made me feel a little bit better about my life so #yay

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I didn't want to post a life update on Facebook for a lot of reasons.

I'm very afraid of oversharing online, and having to live with the repercussions of that in the future (by future kids stumbling across my words to future employers judging me unfit for a job because of them, etc.).

I also don't like posting a lot about myself. I am on social media sites to learn about others more than to be about me - plus, in college, Facebook is how a lot of clubs communicate online. Also, I am not looking to start a conversation about me because I've got nothing particularly special going on right now.

But after a couple of months of debating, I posted a life update for one main reason - I didn't want to keep explaining to people that I was single instead of in a relationship. I posted it on Facebook for the convenience it offered me - I wouldn't have to keep explaining my breakup with my boyfriend, which unfortunately still makes my heart ache (even though we both knew it was the right thing to do).

But as the number of likes grew from single digits (which is the common number of likes for my less than extraordinary posts) to more than one-hundred, I wondered why Facebook posts starting with the words "Life update!" receive a lot of attention.

Did my life update post receive a lot of attention because I'm about to graduate? That's a pretty big milestone, and people in my family and friend groups are naturally curious what I'm planning to do after college.

Did people like my life update because people on social media sites like Facebook have become accustomed to the desire to know what their close friends, acquaintances, and the practically-strangers-but-still-on-my-feed-cuz-I-used-to-work-with-them are up to? I think people like knowing what other people are up to. This desire could come from genuine love and concern. This desire could be as simple as curiosity. I know I am drawn to reading other people's life updates, even if I haven't seen this dude since he was in middle school, a whole five inches shorter and sporting a very middle school wardrobe (100% Abercrombie and Fitch).

Do I want the number of likes to be so high because people liked my shout out to Mary, the Mother of God, for helping me through a really tough couple of months? I WOULD HOPE SO, but I doubt it. Not many people I know are seeking out information about the Mother of God. But sincerely, without Mary, I don't think I would've accepted the forgiving love Christ has for me as much as I did.

In all sincerity, I think my post caught people's attention because 1) I barely post anything in depth about me on Facebook and 2) the post mentioned a relationship related thing, which everyone is interested in knowing about, no matter what age they are. The good news is, with every like I felt a little more relieved (one less person who would ask about my ex-boyfriend, assuming we were together!). I also got some words of encouragement in the comments from close friends, which brightened my day.

All in all, I enjoyed posting a life update because having all the information I wanted out in the open felt so relieving. I shared enough to be heard and didn't feel as alone after posting it.

So yay for life updates! Maybe I'll do more in the future.

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