National City, CA
How It All Began
During my junior year of high school, my friend Angelica and I found a common love for creating change in our community. As we began to put our energies into this idea, a plan emerged. We would start a club at our school with the intention of spreading awareness of social justice issues. However, this proposition was ultimately turned down since we couldn’t find a staff member to be our club adviser. I was frustrated, upset, and infuriated…that all changed with a single email. Our principal usually sends out meaningless messages to the student body, but this one caught my eye. I clicked on the corresponding link, and it led to me to the Social Fabric Initiative website. As I read through the descriptions, I was stunned. This was everything I wanted to do. The Social Fabric Initiative (SFI) would help me make a difference by allowing me to build hope within my community; it would help me grow and improve . I would make new friends who think like me; I would make new friends who don’t think like me. The tools and resources that this program provides would allow me to master my skills in communications and collaborations, which will in turn aid me in my future goals. When I realized that this was something I wanted to do, I clicked ‘sign up’.
During the process, I learned that nothing can be achieved without a little struggle. And I struggled. A lot. When I read the sign up process, I already knew that I wanted to submit a video. However, I wanted to execute this project so bad that I overthought everything and ended up with nothing. I spent hours on hours filming and editing countless videos–none of which I was happy with. I was retaking and re-editing footage until an hour before the deadline. That’s when I gave up. In the little time I had left, I quickly typed up an application form and submitted it. But I was unhappy. I lost so much sleep trying to film something good. I put every single bit of energy I had into this video but each bit was wasted. Then I had an idea. I emailed the head of the program and asked for a few more days to submit a video application. To my surprise, she said yes. For about another sleepless week, I repeated the process and still ended up with something I was not happy with. I sat down and asked myself why I still wasn’t feeling satisfied with my work. I realized that these videos were not me. I was trying too hard to be perfect. With this in mind, I took out my camera and explained why I wanted to be part of the program. I sent in the raw, unedited footage and hoped for the best.
Things I Would Do Differently
So many people say that they don’t have regrets because their choices led them to where they are now, but there are so many things about this journey that I would change. Although everything I did ultimately got me into the program, I still wish things could have gone smoother. If I had the chance to redo everything, I would have gotten more sleep. The final video and essay application I submitted must have taken me about one to two hours altogether. It took me about two weeks to film and edit--and that was just for the bad videos. One of these things got me into an incredible summer program. The other just made me hate my life. I regret wasting my time trying to perfect something I couldn’t. I should have just kept things simple and honest because in the end - that’s all that matters. No one cared about how nice I edited my videos; no one cared about how long it took me to execute my ideas. The only thing that really mattered was how much and how badly I wanted to change my community.
My Future Goals
I still remember the first SFI event. I was terrified. But meeting new people and learning new things really helped me ease into the program. I made new friends, and I made more connections. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I realized that there are so many more things I wanted to accomplish through this program. Before actually participating, I thought that it would just help me fulfill the goals of my failed school club. But now, I see that SFI will actually guide me into creating change. The program connected me with organizations I never would have approached. It introduced me to people I would have never spoken to, and it made me fall in love with contributing to my community in ways I never would have thought of. My plan to raise awareness about social issues at my school may have failed, but SFI allows me to take action, and that’s even better.