When we look around at the state of the world, many of us may feel a sense of dread – or even despair. We may also feel a strong pull and motivation to try to do something about it. It’s totally normal to fluctuate anywhere between those two poles many times throughout our lives, as it is very hard to not get discouraged.
Pacing ourselves is essential. Many people say that they get into this kind of work, because they want to impact the world in some way. That is a very honourable desire. As we embark on that journey, it’s essential to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. The work you begin here in your post-secondary peer program will transfer with you as you move into new areas of your life.
Many people devote their entire lives to a cause, and it can take years to see it make an impact.
Impacting the world means that we need
A Global Lens
This is where big picture advocacy comes in, and the societal change we all long for. In the article Breaking the Chain: Healing Racial Trauma in the Body, activist, therapist and author Resmaa Menakem says that he predicts that it will take 9 generations to see a big change in systemic racism issues! Change happens slowly over time, but we need to be persistent and committed. Systems are big and complicated and changing them means we need to be dedicated, tenacious, and persistent. Clearly this is a long-term commitment.
We share this not to discourage you, but to encourage you to pace yourself when engaging in efforts for huge cultural shifts. Do your part, and take care of your own needs. It is OK to enjoy your life, even if others are suffering. You cannot alleviate all suffering. It’s impossible. Please take pleasure in the little moments of joy in your life, while you do the important work of creating a better society.
A Community Lens
Wholeness, wellness, and societal change also involve a focus on smaller communities – your school, your workplace, your city or town, your family, your friend groups, and any subcultures you are involved in. At the community level, the focus is more about mutual support; support must go both ways. You can’t give support away to others without receiving it back in some way. This is about give and take, the sharing of energy and resources. To experience wellness, it is essential that we give to others, and it is equally essential that we learn to receive from others. Not only is Mutuality a core value of peer support, but it is also necessary for our own personal wellness, and the wellness of our communities. When we deny others the opportunity to support us, we are denying the human need for mutuality in those who want to support us.
A Lens that Supports Individual Well-Being
Building your own resilience is what this whole module is about. Well-being for yourselves includes attending to your needs, practicing self-compassion, and creating boundaries. It is essential that we find a way to support ourselves with kindness and compassion, and then create some concrete ways to put these things into practice. This module is the tip of the iceberg, but we hope it will encourage you to create your own wellness plan.
What are the issues you are passionate about changing on a global level?
Have you established a sense of purpose or direction about one of those issues? If so, what are you committed to do to support change?
What will you do to create the endurance needed when tackling an issue this large?
What things are you committed to being involved in at a community level?
What steps will you take to support this?
Who are your supporters? Who will you lean on when you are struggling?
What are some qualities you look for in a supporter?