When I first came to college I set a goal for myself to improve my public speaking skills. Well, yesterday I gave a presentation to about 130 people and I didn’t freak out. So, goal accomplished.
I stood up and presented about a project that I am working on as a part of my internship with The Advocacy Center called “Bringing in the Bystander” to try to gain support from Residential Life. Bringing in the Bystander is a peer education based sexual assault prevention program designed to give students the skills to intervene in questionable situations before it is even possible for anything to occur. I gave a very strong overview of the program to see if there were any RAs in the crowd who would want a program for their floor or who would want to become peer educators themselves. I finished the pitch—my voice still strong, loud enough, and unwavering—before I passed around a clipboard for people to sign up. It started to circle around the room as I went back to my seat.
I’ve been working on bringing these programs to campus since December. I’ve been sending out emails to student organizations. I’ve had meetings with campus professionals. I’ve done test programs. I’ve created materials and spent countless hours doing outreach to anyone who might be interested in getting involved. I sat back in my seat and I had a sudden moment of fear that no one would be interested in this program that I felt so passionate about.
I sat there for the rest of my RA staff meeting looking around the room trying to find my pink clipboard that was still being passed around somewhere in the room. I waited to get it back anxiously. Thankfully, when I got it back, there were several names on it. Many people wanted programs and they wanted to become peer educators. I had this wonderful moment where I thought: People really do care. They really do want to get involved.
Then I looked a little closer at the paper and I saw this:
Someone wrote that I was awesome at the top of the page. It was just two words written in mechanical pencil at the top of the page but it was the exact affirmation and support that I needed to remind me that I am really doing something great on campus. People are noticing. People care. And that’s a wonderful feeling.
That being said, I know there are activists out there that are working hard every day and their efforts go unnoticed. Even if no one verbally acknowledges your efforts, keeping going. When someone does, cherish that moment, maybe write it down so you can remember that when you’re feeling low.
To all of you out there who are working hard on different projects or taking small steps to make a difference: You’re awesome.
All the best,