I wrote yesterday about this feeling so many of us seem to have of never being enough, and more specifically about our percieved failings as ‘environmentalists’ (for want of a better word).
With issues like climate change, fast fashion, resource depletion, plastic pollution (to name but a few) it is easy to get overwhelmed.
If I actually allow myself to stop and think about about these issues, to really think about what kind of planet and future my kids will have, my heart starts to race, and I genuinely start to feel quite panicky. And guilty. And so, so incredibly sad.
I don’t really allow myself the time and space to think about these issues too deeply very often, precisely because of the feelings that it evokes. It’s too intense, too much, too hard.
The over-arching feeling though, is one of overwhelm. When I look at the big picture, at the state of the planet, and our society, and all of the huge issues facing humanity today, the idea that me, one person, could do anything at all in the face of all that seems laughable.
And with that overwhelm come feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness, and if it’s not too dramatic to say it, despair.
It can feel like there is no point in even trying.
I have this vision in my head sometimes of my kids turning round to me in 30 years time, and saying “What the hell were you all doing? Did you not see this coming? Why did you not do more while you had the chance? Why did you not do something?”
And I want to be able to tell them that I did do something.
That my efforts as one person, might have been inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but that I did do something. That I tried.
The comments section in response to yesterday’s blog post is one of the most uplifting and inspiring things I have read in quite some time, and they have been the catalyst for today’s post.
Alfred Chow is a wise wise man. I have never met Alfred in real life, but he feels like an old friend. He and his lovely wife Sue have been huge supporters of the blog, and active and inspiring participants in #makedoandmendhour when it was running. I’m going to paraphrase, but here is a bit of Alfred’s comment:
It’s not possible to do everything, it isn’t even easy to try to do most (things).
But always, doing something is better than doing nothing.
Trying is better than not trying.
In three sentences Alfred has managed to pretty much sum up one of the core values behind this blog, and the essence of what I learned from a year buying nothing new.
It is always worth doing something. Even at those times when everything feels really bleak and hopeless, we can still do something. No matter how small. No matter how seemingly pointless. No positive action, no effort, is ever wasted.
I need to remind myself of that. Not just in terms of tackling the enormity of massive challenges like climate change and rampant consumerism, but in terms of more everyday challenges.
When things feel too big, to all-encompassing, and threaten to suffocate me, I need to remember that doing something, anything, is better than nothing.
I find it helpful (but usually forget to do it) to think of the end goal, be that being Zero Waste, or something like starting a podcast, and then to break that down into the steps I will need to take to get there. And then break each one of those steps down into smaller steps. And keep breaking it down, until I have something, one thing, that I can do today.
One action. One baby step.
When faced with the big picture, and the overwhelm, focussing in on the practical actionable achievable things for right now really helps.
Pick one thing. And do it (that’s a really important bit-don’t forget to do it. I am very good at creating lists of actions and then not actually following up on them).
Taking action, moving one baby step forwards, no matter how small is empowering. And will catalyse the next step, and the next step.
What’s that saying? “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”
All of the steps add up to get us to our destination, and are part of the journey (which as well know, is usually more important than the destination).
And all our of collective steps, the positive choices that we make, the changes we make, add up.
And when they do they have the potential to overwhelm the world, and at that point each of our individual micro actions become part of change on a bigger scale. That is how change happens. One person, one baby step, at a time.
Thankyou all for your wonderful and inspiring comments. The support and genuine kindness of all of the comments really does epitomise the brilliant community that we have here, that we are all a part of.
So what do you need support with today? What challenges are you facing? And what one baby step will you take today?
Do let us know, and then know that we have your back. We are cheering you on and willing you to succeed.