As young changemakers, we all have big dreams. We wish we could erase all the problems in the world so that every life can live happily and free of suffering. But as we continue on our journey advocating for change, at times we are hit with a massive wall stopping us from moving forward. This wall that represents the vastness of this world makes us feel small and helpless. We begin to wonder: Can we, as one person amidst 8.1 billion lives on this earth, really rid the world of suffering? But remember that you are not alone. We changemakers are here, standing beside you, striving to change the world.

Are You Doing Enough? 

The biggest question we constantly struggle with as changemakers is whether we are doing enough, pushing us to reflect on the impact of our actions. But defining ‘enough’ is a challenge that requires self-awareness and an understanding of our capabilities. ‘Impact’ is something that varies between different people. For some, changing the life of one person is enough. But for another, having helped 100 people is still not enough. This is why self-awareness is important. 

Knowing our strengths and weaknesses allows us to stop comparing our work with other people, and shift our perspective to ‘how can I make the most of what I have and who I am right now?’ By learning more about ourselves, we begin to understand that we are not perfect human beings, and we have limitations based on our identity that prevent us from attaining some things. For example, if you are a student, your education is your priority, your age is your limitation and most of us do not have enough monetary resources to do big things we wish we could. And at the end of the day, impact should not be a numbers game. It is about the significance of your action for the cause you are advocating for, especially within your capabilities. 

Building self-awareness is not easy, especially in this age where it is easier to compare ourselves to what we see online. But it is an important tool to help us make wiser decisions and build self-confidence, by helping us understand our value. Here are some things you can do to begin building your self-awareness:

  1. Learn more about yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, and personal biases. This will help build your confidence and not take criticism personally.
  2. Be open to constructive criticism from those around you and actively seek feedback. There are things that we cannot see as insiders, yet are apparent to those outside.some text
    1. Learn to differentiate between constructive criticism and destructive criticism!
  3. Step back when you feel overwhelmed and deconstruct what your feelings are. Set aside time for yourself to reflect on your current state of mind and see how you have grown

Addressing expectations and societal pressures 

Society has an ‘all or nothing’ mindset that equates the extent of our activism with the sacrifices we make. However, this is flawed because it minimizes ‘impact’ to a number, failing to take into account everyone’s unique life circumstances that determine their capabilities. For example,  person A with 10 apples donates 5 apples, while person B with 1 million apples donates 100 apples. If we only look at their donation amount, we would think that person B cares more than person A. But if we see the bigger picture, person A donated half of their apples, meaning that they made a greater sacrifice. This is why context is important. Not everyone has the privilege to make large contributions because our capabilities and priorities in life are different at various points of our lives, and that’s fine. As long as we are still seeking to change something that we believe in and putting in our best efforts to do so, it still makes you a changemaker.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is when we doubt our abilities and don’t feel deserving of our success. Such situations can be stressful and disencouraging for us, perhaps even deterring us away from our passions. This is why we need to learn to control such thoughts through various ways:

  1. Talk to your peers for support. Sharing your feelings can help you understand what other people around you experience, and perhaps even find solidarity in sharing the same troubles.
  2. Talk to other people in your field. It is important to understand the mental pressures of your passions to make sure you can keep going. More importantly, you might get some insightful advice from experienced professionals about how they overcame such challenges.
  3. Identify the root of your feelings. What prompted these feelings of doubt?
  4. Acknowledge that your successes are a result of your hard work, and other people saw in you what you couldn’t see. 

At the end of the day, we have to learn to acknowledge that any change is still a change. And change means progress. The world is too big for us to fight and change all alone. But doing the best you can to advocate for a cause is what makes you a changemaker.