*Disclaimer: I'm about to get really Renaissance-College-emotional.
A few months ago, RBC approached me to be an ambassador for their new #ChangeAgents campaign. It was right around the time of New York Fashion Week, starting the Joe Fresh Innovators program and moving apartments for the 4th time that year. You could say that I was a little bit overwhelmed, and very likely in over my head (with all of it). But when the largest financial institution in the country asks you to be one of the faces of their new campaign, you say yes.
I didn’t know it at the time, but #ChangeAgents would become one of the best things to happen to me in 2015.
RBC’s campaign is highlighting a handful of young people who are “change agents” in their communities; people like Alex Deans – a university student tackling the problems faced by the visually impaired – or Mayaan Z. – who's building a social movement towards accessibility with her app AccessNow. Oh, and me: a fashion designer raising awareness for mental illness.
In November, I had a film crew follow me to capture Wear Your Label's second show at Atlantic Fashion Week – which, alongside an interview, has been airing on MTV, CTV & E! the past 7 weeks. As if things could get better, I had the opportunity to speak in front of 8,000+ young people at We Day Atlantic (and meet one of my childhood Disney icons Debby Ryan).
But I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “change agent” and what that really means. I think, at first my assumption was obvious: “change agent” = “leader”. In some way shape or form, change agents are leading social movements, innovating new solutions, and creating positive change. Right?
Instead, what I’m starting to realize is that “change agent” = “facilitator”. Change agents aren’t necessarily alone at the forefront, “creating change”. Change agents bridge the gap. Just like a travel agent bridges the gap between someone who wants to travel, and their next great trip (yes, I'm a sucker for analogies). You can't be a change agent without realizing it's not about you.
You can't be a change agent without realizing it's not about you.
Because the real change doesn't happen at fashion weeks, or youth summits, or on set of a TV commercial. The real change happens with every single person who decides to take action. The real change happens when one more person admits their struggles, and chooses self-acceptance over hatred. The real change happens when a by-stander becomes a supporter. Without support, movements die. Trends fade. The status quo remains. And there is no change.
So thank-you. And thanks to RBC for giving me the platform to share my story, hopefully inspire others, and get people talking.
But please remember that real change only happens when each of us is a part of it. A small group of committed people can change the world, but only if they can convince everyone else it’s a good idea first.