I have said many times before, my favorite part of this job is getting to meet interesting people and share their stories with our readers and that is a fact that remains true to this day. In the past five years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing many wonderful members of this community, who through events in their lives have sometimes made me laugh, sometimes made me cry and often restored my faith in humanity. Even once the interviews are over and the articles are written, I am able to take something away from each one; however I have found the stories that stay with me the longest are the ones that inspire me in some way.
There are many which fall into this category, but there are two in particular that stick out in my mind the most when I feel I am in need of encouragement for some aspect of my life.
The first is a story I wrote a few years back about a girl named Aubri, who I met when she was eight years old and asking for a particular birthday gift. She had decided she had enough toys and wanted to help other children who were less fortunate than she was. It was after viewing a special on TV about a girl who sent shoes to Africa that Aubri got the idea she could help children in her own community the same way. So for her birthday party, instead of receiving presents from her friends, she asked they each bring a pair of flip-flops to donate to the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home and ended up collecting 52 pairs, along with gift cards, pool toys and a cash donation.
Before I sat down to interview Aubri, I was already amazed at the generosity she had at such a young age, and after speaking with her I was reminded of what it is like to be eight years old and believe we have the ability to change the world if we only try hard enough. I feel that is a belief that is sometimes lost as we get older and we often think we are incapable of helping others because we are just one person. However, every time I get discouraged, thinking nothing I do matters and I feel like I am not able to have a positive impact; I think of Aubri’s story and remember that all it takes is one person to make a difference.
The second story that inspires me is about another young person, one I came across recently. Jada is 12 years old and has written and published her own children’s book. She is the youngest published author ever in Upson County and possibly in the entire state. I was amazed by her accomplishment and admittedly a little envious (in the best possible way) because writing and publishing my own book is a goal I set for myself many years ago. However, it is one I have yet to come close to reaching, because I haven’t even written the story yet.
I have started writing several different books over the years and then later stopped because I felt they were not worth anything. I have given up quite easily on my dream in the past, but that all is about to change. While the word envy generally has a negative connotation, I believe it can be a positive motivator and that is exactly what it has done for me this time. Getting to meet and interview Jada, helped to remind me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. All you have to do is be willing to take the first step and go for what you want.
You may find it odd that the two stories I think of when I am searching for inspiration both involve children, but I think it is rather fitting. As adults we may talk a good game, but it is children who take action more often than not. They see a person in need and want to help and they do it; or they set a goal for themselves and work on it until they have it perfected, while as adults we often give up at the first sign of trouble. So the next time you find yourself in need of some encouragement, try looking to the children in your community. You may be surprised just how much you can learn from them.