How a UN Hashtag Changed My Life
Open eyes. Stretch. Check the clock. Do math—and by math I mean… If I sleep five more minutes can I still get everyone out the door on time? Math has never been my strong suit. I pick up my phone instead. Three minutes. I’ll give myself three minutes to see what happened in the world while I was asleep. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. Click. Double tap. Retweet. Open browser. Read. Scroll. Share.
This might look exactly like your morning—the few minutes before you really begin your day by catching up with friends or interacting with strangers. Me too. Except, I like to use this time to follow along with world news, events, and conferences about things that interest me (and the occasional browsing for my favorite TV show’s Twitter account, I’ll admit). I use these first few minutes, and pockets of time throughout my day, for powerful little clicks to support and strengthen the causes I follow. While a like or share may seem like a mere blip on a newsfeed, it is through one of these blips that I connected with a cause and community that transformed me—this is how I began contributing weekly for OneMama.org.
It has been two years since my first article so I thought I’d share how a hashtag changed my life.
Before joining the OneMama.org team, I would close my eyes before bed each night and pray a simple prayer: “I just want to be a service to the world. I want to help those in need. I know you have a plan. I’m ready for my plan whenever you are.”
Some nights, it was, “PLEASE JUST LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO?” See, I have tasted my dreams and I have lived my bucket list. When my first child began growing in my body, a body that was once filled with malaria and typhoid from trekking into villages in Papua New Guinea, I knew a new dream was birthing alongside her. When I held her for the first time, with the same hands that planted trees in the Amazon, I knew everything would look different now. As scared as I felt at times, I welcomed it. I looked down as I nursed her in my arms, then eventually my little boy who came two years later, and I knew I would forever hold tightly to a new understanding of what love looks like.
It took some time to grasp what it truly meant to be of influence when I was no longer “out there in the world.” I went through a “wandering season,” dabbling with websites and spent time as a social media intern for an up-and-coming charity website. I was trying to find my place. I was trying to find a place where I could help the world while still staying home with my children. I often asked the question, “can I still be the change I wish to see in the world if my world is so tightly squeezed between four walls?”
I found my answer two years ago while clicking on a hashtag that connected me to a photo posted by OneMama.org founder, Siobhan Neilland, at a UN Women event in New York City. We now giggle about this moment because at the time, it was such a simple interaction. Yet it’s this blip on a newsfeed that has developed into a genuine friendship and a wonderful, collaborative relationship. It went something like this –
Me: I like what you do, can I interview you?
Siobhan: Of course! I looked at your blog. I love what you do.
Siobhan: That was fun. Let’s be friends.
Me: I love you so much.
(Paraphrasing but no less true.)
I now interview Siobhan weekly and write content for the OneMama community on current topics around the globe, covering OneMama programs in Africa to the action behind-the-scenes in the OneMama world. I’ve learned a lot in the past two years. Not only have I strengthened my voice as a writer, but I’ve also learned about the intricate web of pieces constantly in play when standing for change. It all started because of a hashtag and the simple question, “how can I be of service?”
A quote that I want to leave you with is the quote by Nora Roberts that gave me courage to ask Siobhan for that first interview.
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
Now this is a math equation I can do: boldness plus showing up (and subtracting ego) equals lasting change—even if it’s just the change you see within yourself.
I’ve taken a lot of lessons with me as I go through each phase of this journey but with all of the exciting changes and opportunities one thing remains – you can never underestimate a simple moment in your day. So many opinions, ideas, and influences fly in and out of each day – twenty-four hours of endless inspiration and changes. We must keep our eyes open for the things that matter. These subtle moments that seem like small sparks might actually be the nudges you need to change your life and the lives of others.