Do you ever feel like an ant on the back of an elephant when thinking about your scope of influence? I have, but in my heart, I believe that one person truly can make a difference. I’m not talking about becoming a caped crusader or leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. I’m referring to the person who let me into traffic, receptionists who have greeted me promptly, and the person who took the time to cancel their reservation creating an opening for me.
My definition of making a difference doesn’t involve fame, world domination, or never making a mistake. If it did I’d easily become discouraged. Instead, I take the shorter view, identifying those who’ve made a difference in my life. I can still remember a teacher who knowing my parents both worked and couldn’t attend after school volleyball games, supported me by making her presence known. Each time the referee called side out, and it came my turn to serve, butterflies had a jamboree in my stomach. I’d hear a cheer coming from the stands, and break out in a blushing grin. Hearing her enthusiasm one might think the team’s power server had just stepped up to the line. On the contrary, none of my serves made it over the net; my own teammates crouched in fear as the ball ricocheted off the ceiling. Now every time my serve makes it to the other side of the net I silently give thanks for a teacher who refused to give up on me, even in the face of defeat.
I won’t be posing for a statue anytime soon, but by following Mrs. Beach’s example I believe I have made a difference in the lives of others. I share my smile, mentor new employees without being asked and thank the clerk who bags my groceries. You may not think yourself a hero when giving up your seat on the train, but you are to the person who sits there.
I know I’ll never look like Angelina Jolie or become a world class figure skater, but whenever I start to doubt my belief that one person truly can make a difference, I recall feeling like a loser and the one person who continued cheering me on.
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