I’ve always seen how difficult it is to organize an event by observing other people doing it. It requires a total commitment to that event, in terms of time, effort and brainpower. The organizer knows the whole program, where it takes place, the names of everyone involved, and who goes where, when. As is often the case, however, the full meaning of this did not really sink in until it happened to me.
I’m talking about the Design and Architecture Society’s Design Week ’14 (a.k.a. Tasarım Bilkent). Even though I didn’t singlehandedly organize the week-long event, I saw what a laborious process it was to put something like this together. No part of the work should be underestimated; everything takes longer than you think. This last bit may be connected to the fact that I’m annoyingly detail-oriented, but never mind. Even writing an e-mail to an official body (one that is supposed to help you anyway) is a task that has to be completed within a certain time frame. If you’re not willing to put in the time to write it, you have to pay for it in the time you spend communicating with your co-organizers, which is another matter entirely. Usually, those who lead the organization committee for an event of this scale swear off extracurricular activities entirely, until they come up against the next one (in which case, repeat the whole process).
So why do people do it? Not just event organizing, but any extracurricular activity? Because it’s rewarding, obviously. Because when you put something together, and someone shows up to participate, you feel like you’ve added something to their lives. And if you’re the participant, it’s because being in an environment of shared interests and values allows you to get a subtle hint of solidarity. We are all looking for this feeling of unity, in each aspect of our lives. Nobody wants to feel alone. In fact, our system of morality depends on the reality that people generally want to be surrounded, not singled out. In case of a failing, the worst punishment to give someone is to shine a light on them and expose them to the world—as if people knowing about whatever evil you committed is worse than the fact that you felt the need to do it in the first place.
Since this is what happens in consequence of our faults, we often mistakenly have fears concerning our successes as well. Even if what you’re doing is downright awesome, you feel anxious stepping into the limelight. In regard to this, I think, we should keep Marianne Williamson’s quote in mind:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same [emphasis added]. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
We may or may not agree with every part of this quote, but we have to admit that Williamson makes a good point. We are inspired by those who do good. We look up to them, and try to be like them. Why not try to be one of them? Whether it’s because we’re idealistic university students, or (if we aren’t) because we can embrace our inner child, we should strive to live and to experience life. I never thought I would say this, but we have to get out of our comfort zone. It’s all well and good living comfortably, in the house you’ve known all your life, with people you’ve known all your life, but what’s wrong with asking for more? What’s so intimidating about creating yourself the space to grow without being encumbered by memory and experience?
Of course, nobody really wants to quit their comfort zone, it’s so easy being there. Most people spend their lives trying to create an economic/social/political comfort zone, so why leave it if you have it, right? That’s why you have to push yourself until you’re out, because once you are, and only once you are, will you realize what all those people meant when they told you to leave it. Then, you will not only experience the delight of freedom, but will also know the actual, real value of what was once only a comfortable habit for you. For anyone who doubts this, I suggest you watch “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
This was originally a short story, but the movie took it and developed the main character to communicate its message in a very powerful way. There was no one less likely to “take the leap” than Walter Mitty, so if you ever need a push, you should watch the film and see that if he did it (for no apparent reason), then you can too. And you should. It’s worth getting beyond your experiences to be able to say, in 900 years (like the Doctor in “Doctor Who”), or 90 (as is more likely for us humans), “I lived my dream. I owned the stage. Gave it 110 percent. I hope you have as much fun as I did.”