The Success of a Small Impact

We sometimes underestimate the impact of the little things.

Metaphors are mighty useful things aren't they?

As a writer, I liberally sprinkle metaphors throughout my sentences to communicate whatever point has emerged from my brain and demanded to be spoken. They help me frame topics, add interest to otherwise dull phrases, and are just generally useful tools.

And then sometimes, just sometimes, they emerge in my life.

This is how I felt when I experienced the thrill of opening the new Blogosphere magazine and seeing myself on page 90. The beautiful Becky Bedbug chose me as one of her five lifestyle bloggers for issue 11 and I was naturally thrilled. Traffic around here is generally slow, even though I've been pouring love into this for two years, and sometimes it can be disheartening to see similar blogs who've been around for the same or even less time flying off into realms of success that I could never dream of. I'm so happy for them, but this recognition was an incredible validation for what I'm doing, all the more so because of the words that Becky wrote about me. One phrase in particular stuck out: "Liza Tait-Bailey is a 'quiet' blog but one that makes a real impact".

If you look at the stats of almost anyone else in the magazine, mine are minuscule in comparison but Becky felt like I was making an impact and that's all that matters to me. I see this is the comments I receive publicly and privately: just yesterday a friend told me that my words on counselling had made her reconsider attending. The views trickle in and they may be few, but I'd rather have just one person read it and be the better for it than thousands who merely glance over.

Expanding out, then, to my metaphor. For those that know me or have been around here for a while, it will come of no surprise to hear that I despair over the difference that I can't make. I look around and the hatred and fear and want to weep for the world that seems to hateful, but no matter how much time and energy I have to give it never seems to be enough. Sometime ago I realised that I had to focus on what impact I could have, however small that may be. If everyone did so, surely we'd be in a much better situation that we are now?

I took mental health and wellbeing as my cause of choice, focused mainly on my campus, and have thrown love and passion into trying to start conversations around me. Through REACH, that beloved peer support group that I mention almost every other post, we have started conversations that I never thought possible. Seeing others take up the mantle, with new ideas and energy for how we can make a difference, shows just how powerful each small impact can be. We talk suicide, social anxiety, sexual consent; the myriad issues that pop up in people's lives that we often are scared to talk about. Handing out stickers saying you mustache first is such a simple way to go about it, but it got people thinking about consent. 

There is no shame in a small impact. It can be easy to fall into longing for the big sweeping movements but staring at these without trying to start small is no success at all. Success is a word on my mind at the moment as I venture towards the working world. Friends of mine are gaining amazing scholarships for universities across the world, and when I think of my future compared to theirs – my only plan post-NYUAD being to learn Spanish in Guatemala – it seems so modest. But I wonder if I would be happy with their metrics of success, and often my answer (the one not driven by insecurities) is no. I'm still not quite sure what success looks like for me, but I know that it doesn't have to align with what society expects. Maybe I will be destined for a life of small successes as defined by others, but in my view that is no bad thing. All that matters to me is applying myself to the best of my ability, as I have tried to do with this site, and seeing what happens.