By Bianca Glenn Class of 2022
Dear those who want to make an impact on the world,
On December 9th I got asked, “How do you create an experience through conversation?”. At first glance, the question intimidated me, but I usually have fun answering philosophical questions, so I didn’t mind this challenge.
First, I decided to explore what an experience is. I found myself surfing the internets and wound up on the Collins Dictionary website. I found multiple definitions of what an experience was, but out of the many definitions, two resonated with me: “an experience is something that you do or that happens to you, especially something important that affects you” and an “experience is used to refer to the past events, knowledge, and feelings that make up someone’s life or character.”
This means an experience can affect a person both indirectly and directly, but only if what that person has been through carried some sort of importance or value. For example, you just walked out of Baskin-Robbins with cookies and cream ice cream in your hand, you’re about to take your first lick, but then somebody bumps into you and your ice cream falls on the ground. Now you’re probably mad because you were so hyped to eat that ice cream, but if it weren’t for that guy on the bike you would’ve been enjoying it. Even if you didn’t get mad, you still felt some way about your ice cream getting knocked on the ground. Because of this experience, you will probably be more cautious about holding ice cream outside of Baskin-Robbins since you value the enjoyment that comes from eating ice cream.
Experiences are unforgettable events whether “bad” or “good” that stay with you for the rest of your life and shape how you view the world, ultimately impacting how you will be handling different situations moving forward. Events are usually unforgettable when they are unexpected, and life is filled with many unexpected events, but how we handle the abruptness of life trickles back to how experiences have impacted us in the past.
So to steer back to the question “How do you create an experience through conversation?”, the truth is we don’t have control over creating experiences in a conversation. The only way we would know if we have created an experience through a conversation is when it is revealed to us by their actions or when the other person has acknowledged how the conversation made them feel. For example, imagine you’re a motivational speaker and you’ve just dropped a video on instagram sharing the message that “it’s okay to fall, but after, work on getting back up”. The next day you’re watching someone’s Instagram story and it’s a video of themselves sharing the highlights of their day. At the end of the video, they say exactly this: “It’s okay to fall, but after work on getting back up”. It is in this instance that you realize you’ve made an impact on someone else’s life from the words you shared in your video because you can see they have soaked in your message. A week later, someone DMs you and tells you how much your message helped them. This too is confirmation that what you said in your video left a positive impact on the life of another person.
Ultimately, when we share our experiences with another person, the impact it has created through the conversation can depend on how much the person knew before the conversation, what experiences they went through themselves, what they value, and if the conversation was useful.
After exploring this broad yet exciting question, I realized that we may never know if we’ve left an impact on a person for the better. We’re all just trying to make the world less worse and it can be hard not knowing if you’ve added to the world’s messiness or if you’ve made it more bearable for those around you.
Since we don’t have control over how people recieve our actions, we should focus on what we do have control over: our intentions and the actions we take.
We often forget that we’re each born with talents. We’re so used to praising certain talents, like singing or dancing, that the talents that get less recognition are seen as insignificant.
To tell you the truth, no talent is better than the other. Every talent is unique and can be used to help anybody. We need to start focusing on how we can use our talents to help someone.
If drawing is your thing, start sharing your artwork. Your artwork could literally be the thing that makes someone’s day. If you write, the stories you write can be the voice of others who have remained silent. If you give great advice (yes this is a talent), share your advice and knowledge, there is always someone in the world who needs to hear it. If you know how to encourage others, text a friend some encouraging words, trust me, it will make their day.
I know this year it was hard to even know if what you have been doing to comfort those around you has been enough whether at home, school, work, or anywhere. Many of you are probably thinking, does it even make sense to keep trying to help those around you, how can I even make an impact during this time?
You can still make an impact on someone’s life during this time even if you worry about if what you are doing will actually help a person in some way. Don’t hold back, there’s always someone out there who needs your help. Even if how you help doesn’t help one person there’s always another person waiting for you to help them. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have helped a large crowd (like Jesus) or if you have helped two people in your entire life, the number of people you have helped doesn’t define you. What matters is you’ve helped make the world less painful to live in, and that my friends, is a big accomplishment.