I believe in you. I believe in you so much. Shit, woman, it doesn’t matter: You can make change whether or not your parents think you’ll amount to anything, your boss treats you like a pile of dirt, your teacher or professor thinks you are the second coming of some debunked mental health condition, your boyfriend (oh, God, your boyfriend) wants to be supportive but just doesn’t get it, your girlfriend believes in you against the wishes of everyone else, anything or everything or nothing at all, you can make change whether or not I believe in you and others have caught on.
You must believe in yourself. You have got to believe in yourself because You Can Make Change and any thought you cannot should be weighed commensurately as the cosmologically irrelevant contribution that it is, because the mantra is Never Doubt You Can Make Change, because you can. You can make change whether others cast you in the role of victim (which you are not), or hero (which you sometimes secretly worry you may not live up to), or both, because some people value us and some people don’t, and, maddeningly, some people will switch from one category to another.
Your self-esteem may be rotten, putrid, changing into a color you hadn’t wanted it to be. Your self-esteem may be a partially eaten apple core tossed on the sidewalk. If your self-esteem is, or has been, a steaming pile of shit at some point in your life, it is not reflective of you but a culture that tells women and girls they are a steaming pile of shit, and the unfair things aren’t unfair, they are inexplicable statistical discrepancies that are personally and somehow (for all of us) our fault.
Never Doubt You Can Make Change because what it takes to win is a wild idea, or a wild persistence, or several day after day boring days where you make the same phone call and nobody, but the lonely person, seems to care.
Activism is embracing the truth, the uncomfortable truth, and saying the right thing because if you don’t nothing will change. Something must change. Activism is using one of those fake sponge-like magic wands to seal hundreds of fundraising letters for a non-profit helping people in need. Activism is doing a phone bank and saying the same thing over and over again into people’s answering machines. Activism is telling your friend, that joke isn’t funny anymore. Activism is telling your boss to treat everyone better. Activism is sharing your story with an elected official. Activism is running for public office. Activism is posting your story for the world to see. Activism is demanding a company stop doing something shitty. Activism is non-violent civil disobedience, if you need to go there.
The people on the other side will ignore you, marginalize you, distort you, laugh at you, scream in your face, call you horrible names. They will do everything they can to silence you. You do not have to worry about them, because, see, what they are doing is not about you. It’s not about you personally and who you are, although they will try to make it seem that way because they do not want to deal, head-on, with your message of justice (if they did they would have to concede there is a dark side to their pristine status quo).
Sometimes the people you thought were on your side will turn on you. Often, this is much more painful than having a right-wing asshole ridicule your appearance or tear your words to little distorted shards. It is far easier to turn on each other than it is to press forward. But, it is also noble, when there is someone toxic in your life and it cannot be healed, to walk away and find another way to meet the goal.
Never Doubt You Can Make Change even though the definition of power in this world is more often distorted as hierarchy, controlling others, silencing or turning down the softer voices. These are forms of violence, these are forms of privilege, these are not forms of true power. These are not forms of sustainable power. If you have a grandiose vision of changing the world (and that is so sexy if you do!), please be inclusive in your vision of power because you can change so much when you do not fixate on dictating the terms of how others are to think about themselves, their world and how they are to best get by within it.
You can change so much. Everyone has one voice, exactly one voice. Respect that, and respect your one voice. It is always the right time to do the right thing. It is always the right time to say the right thing. It is always the right time to trust the best instincts in yourself, and the best instincts in others.
Power is so very strong when you choose to share it. Embracing shared power is radical and strengthens the power of your unique voice by seven million times. Please Never Doubt You Can Make Change. You can, and you must.