By Julia Larberg
It’s amazing how my thoughts will tumble and fall down a path that is extremely successful in convincing me that the apocalypse is right around the corner.
Today, while driving by a McDonalds, I composed a poem in my head about how sometimes a McChicken can make an en- tire day a little better. Then that leads to the question, ‘How many chemicals am I putting in my body right now?’ which goes to the thought about going into health science and being a positive force in the food crisis in the U.S.
But why should I care about food when pretty much the whole sexual ed- ucation system needs to be overhauled and reorganized to be an effective way of educating the middle to high schoolers about contraception, STDs, and the risks of unprotected sex? Which leads to thethought of why should I even care about that when there are so many child brides around the world being bought and sold as property? What about sex trafficking? What about daily violence against wom- en around the world? What about the cli- mate crisis? Because if all of the other is- sues listed don’t kill me, the climate will.
All of these questions leave me with one final question: what can I, a 20-year- old woman in Overland Park, Kansas, do to help our failing world? How am I going to use my education to help make a difference?
The answer I’ve found is realizing that this issue of wanting to solve every problem the world has is normal. There are other 20-year-olds with short brown hair, love flannel and black leggings that feel like everyday they need to take on the patriarchy or fix the environment crisis.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s also ok to be 20-years-old. To enjoy college and take a deep breath and take a moment to genuinely appreciate my coffee or book or cat or Candy Crush for five minutes.
It’s alright to slow down and take a break from a world that seems to be falling apart around me. To not have everything figured out. To let the world fall into shades of grey and be ok with a stray non-orthographic line in my photograph.
I’m also beginning to realize that every activist and inspired twenty year old made a change in their community first. When I stop worrying and start taking care of myself and doing the little things to raise awareness and being informed, it all adds up and makes a difference.
Contact Julia Larberg, staff photojournalist, firstname.lastname@example.org