On Chain Reactions
I answered one email. I answered one email correctly and now I live in New York City. One stupid email in the slew of dozens of emails and now I’m in the biggest city in America and happier than I’ve ever been. Hindsight is cool sometimes.
These were the thoughts running through my mind as I sat on a couch between two boys I’d met less than a week before in a new apartment in aforementioned city.
I answered one email and now I live with strangers and fall asleep to the whistle of sirens. One tiny “reply” and look what has happened as a result.
Sometime at the end of last summer, I received an email from the people at DoSomething.org, my dream company since like – forever. They were running a clothing drive campaign and wanted colleges to compete. I skimmed the first email, then marked it as “unread” to remind myself to read it later.
A few days later, I got the email again. This time, I left it unread, assuring myself that I would check it out eventually.
Finally, I got the “last call” email.
Alright, I’ll bite.
I opened the link.
Just to see what this is all about.
But that’s my problem. I never “just see what things are about.” They get you with the easy questions…
Name. Year. College. Why service means everything to you in a five paragraph essay using your top 15 favorite SAT vocabulary terms.
Okay, so that last one was a stretch, but you get my point. I blindly applied in what I thought would be a fruitless attempt to get my tiny college into a national service competition.
I’m not even a competitive person. Okay, I kind of am. Oh well, at least I can get rid of the unread email notification.
And so I forgot about it. Forgot about it until I was sitting in my college cafeteria scrolling through a myriad of daily emails and I stumbled across a…
Welcome to Close the Loop College Cup!
That’s it. Those emails are what placed me in this tiny bedroom in Manhattan.
Let me explain a little better. My school went on to compete in the Close the Loop Cup – a national clothing drive for colleges across the country. My tiny little school (all 1,000 strong) placed 3rd and I could not have been more proud of everything they did. The actual drive was one of the hardest months of my life. It was nonstop volunteerism. And I loved it.
Answering that email brought me to a service competition that put me on the radar of the amazing people at DoSomething.org. From there, I was able to secure a spring internship with them after I graduated from college – an internship that brought me to New York. From there…
And the story can go on and on with everything I have done and everything I have seen since moving here in January. All of those being things that never would have happened without answering a simple email.
So maybe that’s the beauty of chain reactions. When they’re good, you can look back from your place on the sofa and feel a real quiet gratitude for whatever turn of events led you to where you are. In my case, it was even more humbling to be able to pinpoint the entire thing that changed my post-college direction. And when they’re bad? Well maybe that’s even better.
Bad, horrible, heartbreaking loss – though it may not be comprehended in the moment – is often the catalyst for some really incredible things.
It’s hard to look big picture sometimes as we go through our day to day lives, and it is really surreal to think about how something as simple as answering an email one afternoon has made such a profound impact on my entire life since – even when I didn’t notice it at the time.
Big life changes don’t always happen in a lightbulb moment realization that has you quitting your job and flying across the country without any direction. Sometimes the biggest life changes come in tiny ripples, shaking our every day moments just enough to ensure we are always exactly where we need to be.
Trust your journey. You are exactly where you need to be.