The Impact of Interaction

Shaynon - Allendale, Michigan
Entered on September 27, 2008

Last year, as a college sophomore, my life-long dream to visit Africa was encouraged like never before. My friend and I discovered a mission trip that interested us, and we soon decided to join the team. However, my lack of finances and surplus of college expenses led me to shy away and put my dream on hold. My friend had the means to partake in the mission, so he followed through with the process. It wrenched my heart to imagine him, without me, setting foot on crimson soil and interacting with a people I had forever dreamed of meeting.

One day at work, my friend (who happened to be a coworker) boldly approached me with a question: “What is stopping you from going to Africa this summer?” The only response I had was that I didn’t have the money. He asked me if I believed that God wanted me to go to Africa, and if He was capable of meeting my financial needs. I couldn’t deny that God was far beyond capable. My friend told me he was going to pay for my application and take me to get a passport. I protested…but he eventually won. He jump-started the motivation I needed to follow my dream, despite my fear of being financially strapped. Within about a month, he had met his financial goal for the mission trip—and I had not. On the night before my birthday, my friend called me to visit him for a while. I arrived, and before I knew it midnight hit and it was officially my birthday. He handed me a slip of paper, and I was stunned to discover what was written upon the soft green sheet. In one moment, I became $1000 closer to grasping my faraway dream.

My friend had a surplus of donations for the Africa trip, and gave me every extra penny. Overall, he had an obviously significant impact on my life. If not for him, I would not have gone to Africa this past summer. He played a significant role in defining who I am today, and who I will become. I’m sure he knows it.

But sometimes individuals are not aware of the significant impact they have on another’s life.

One night at a different friend’s house my freshman year, someone mentioned in passing that if I enjoyed looking over my friends’ papers, I should apply to be a writing consultant. I had no idea what a writing consultant did or what it took to be hired, but I completed the in-depth application process anyway. One competitive hiring process later, I landed myself a job that provides the most preparatory experience I could have…and I owe it to a couple of sentences directed my way just before applications were due. That friend probably has no idea she’s the reason I have my job, or that it was her words that impacted my life this immensely…and will surely benefit my future.

It’s stunning to me that if I had not met this friend, and had she not recommended that I apply to be a writing consultant, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I also never would have met my coworker-gone-friend who made my African dream a reality if it weren’t for her.

Of the countless people I have encountered in my life, just these two people alone have shaped me in incredible ways.

Then there are those everyday influences that seem to be insignificant but actually perk your mood a bit—and a happier mood leads to happier behavior. Happier behavior makes for a day well spent. The other day I smiled and said hello to someone who didn’t appear to be very happy. Maybe I made her day a little brighter.

I believe that everything we do in our interactions with others is influential. From a simple statement to a generous gesture, our words and our actions influence those around us.

Whether the significance of an interaction is apparent immediately, or goes unnoticed until a decade down the road, there is an impact.

Whether the impact is revealed to the world or you never consciously recognize it, and whether it confirms your utmost beliefs or completely flips your world upside down, the impact lives.

Each and every impact lives within us, shaping our emotions, beliefs, and decisions. Each smiling face that fuels a good mood, each conversation that invigorates our passions, and each genuine deed has an everlasting effect on the people around us.

I believe that every individual shares the same supreme ability: we all have the power to make a lasting impact on the lives of others.