My goal as a writing tutor is to motivate students to become excited about their own unique voice. This really means finding a way to gain self-confidence and a zest for personal expression. Alas, I’m having a really difficult time figuring out how to discover these things for myself. Why is it that we are so forgiving and understanding of others but rarely show ourselves the same?
Anyway, I Facebook-stalked someone the other day who has visited, like, 20 countries, is a successful artist, and has a beautiful girlfriend. My stomach burned with jealously (I’m not often jealous; it’s not a good look on me), but I’m in a weird funk – well, it’s more than a funk; it’s both an inspiring and toxic state – and spent the last year believing I need all these adventures to expand my self-determined limits and seize the whole world.
I recently realized through repetitive advice and self-reflection that I don’t need grandiose, life-jarring adventures to feel like I’m living life to its fullest. Thus, instead of fretting over other people’s adventures and wanting to adopt their successes – like I do – my friend and I wrote a list of mini adventures. A few days later, really excited about this list, I wrote “Jennifer Hartsock needs to go on mini adventures. Help!” on a piece of paper and pinned it to the bulletin board at my work. I figured our director would remove it within a few hours (since the board is only used for professional documents), but upon return the next morning, there were 10 mini adventures on my list! A few coworkers asked to fulfill some of these mini adventures with me (in fact, an impressive globetrotter with several college degrees often texts me mini adventure ideas, such as taking a salsa dance class or birding).
I’m not well-practiced, or even practiced at all, really, in doing things solely for myself; the well-being of people hold a slice (at the very least) of motivation in everything I do. So, naturally, my favorite part about this whole thing is that coworkers want to pin their own lists to the bulletin board. What have they silently wanted without an outlet? What doors to courage and fun and freedom did this list create? How did my contribution, although I’ve spent a long time feeling discouraged by my contribution, change their lives?
It is an encouraging prospect, but it’s time to turn my attention toward my own lists. People will help fulfill these adventures, but these are my adventures. What will I gain regardless of any collateral impact on others? That, truly, is the challenge.