-Lauren Bailey on the Invisible Children Experience
As a new wave of people start to walk through the doors, I am reminded that this community is irreplaceable. It’s members change constantly — suddenly I know what it was like for last tour’s Team Leaders to meet a slew of new faces and welcome them into the family. It’s definitely a weird feeling.
Going to pick up new interns at the airport involves such an odd mix of emotions — hesitation to accept a changing season, excitement to make others feel at home, understanding that you are shaping a first impression of this organization and nostalgia in recalling what it was like when you first arrived. I feel like I’ve seen myself walk through the door a handful of times now — wide-eyed and expectant, ready to jump on the first trolley to Target not knowing who is new and who has done this before.
As the community evolves with old friendships growing deeper and new relationships emerging, I call into question why I am here. The question of the ages; the chicken and the egg theory: is it the community or the cause? This organization and it’s core vision have been a part of my life for so long. It’s altered my life and directed my path for the future like nothing else has. Coming here and finally meeting the people behind the movement has been and continues to be a huge source of joy. I feel like I’m already experiencing those feelings of dread when it comes time to leave.
This is such a temporary place, but the relationships cultivated here have the potential to last for life. It’s up to us to make that happen and while I do try, I’m not the best at staying in touch. Right now all I can do is remind myself to live in the present and to soak in every moment as best I can. I also need to work on investing in others — one of the hardest things to do here is develop deep relationships because there are just so many people around all the time — it’s easy to have a great time with one group and move onto the next without learning anything significant about one person.
As for the question posed above…
Whether we’re here after years of dreaming or here after dropping everything in a moment’s notice, it’s the cause that brings us together. It’s the cause and the vision that drive us to move forward in the same direction. But it’s the community that makes me want to stay. Forever and ever and ever.
One day, I’ll put on my big girl pants and walk away from this place with the understanding that life continues beyond Invisible Children. If we’ve learned anything, it’s how to be more conscientious, thoughtful, considerate, sacrificial human beings. Maybe even adventurous risk-takers who see that the world is good and that everyone has something to contribute. Hopefully we can foster those traits in others simply by being who we are and loving who we are.
Tonight, we celebrate a new season at Dan Jones’ house. So there we have it. The perfect place to start investing in others and living in the present — the only place to be!