Setting Your Own Agenda

Recently, I began a book called “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates. If you are familiar with Bill Gates, you are probably aware of his powerful presence in modern technology and how he invests countless hours and insane amounts of money on giving back. More specifically, he attempts to give everyone he can the power of technology. However, his wife, Melinda Gates, plays just as an important, if not a more important role, within their organization. Her book is about women empowerment and how, through her endeavors in philanthropy, she has discovered the only way to truly save a community is by lifting women up.

A few days ago, I was reading her book while sitting in my dorm room when I came across the quote, “If you don’t set your own agenda, somebody else will.” After my eyes ran across the sentence, I hopped out of bed, wrote it down on a piece of stationery paper, and hung it up on my wall. As I stared at this sentence, I couldn’t help but feel as though it was staring right back at me. At the top of my stationery paper, my name is printed across each piece in blue cursive lettering which made this moment even more intimate. I began to read it more like, “Laine, if you don’t set your own agenda, somebody else will.”  But what does this really mean?

Most human beings have the tendency to get caught up in the “Herd,” if you will. The Herd includes the people who get walked on by others. They are the people spending their weekdays at a mundane job in a cubicle, and they are the people who go to college and don’t study something that they are actually passionate about but rather something that will provide a safe source of income. The Herd is made up of the people who let life happen to them rather than them taking on life. Although there are a lucky few who don’t get sucked into this greywater stream, that is how the majority operates. That is how most of our parents are, as well as our siblings and ourselves. But this only happens because we forget that we have the power.

Since the beginning of mankind, humans have had the power to create. When humans needed a way to tell stories, they engraved cave walls with images of dancing humans fighting a buffalo, and when humans needed warmth, they created fire. That drive and willingness to create lives in each person around us. The people who are brave enough to set their own agenda, even on just a day-to-day basis, are the ones who are in touch with that inner power to create. Being in touch with your capability allows you to sit down in front of your planner, calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out everything that you want to do that day. It allows you to be your own boss and to take control of your life by seeing and doing the things you always said that you wanted to. 

For me, coming across this quote was a wake-up call. I’ve struggled a lot in my life by doing what other people want me to do or acting the way that other people want me to act. Although it can be hard at times, it feels liberating to be able to lie down in bed at night and think to myself that I spent my day the way I wanted to spend it. Although I can’t say that it is a completely true statement because if I was really doing what I wanted to do I would be running through the streets of some crazy city in a completely different country or at the top of a mountain taking in an expansive view. However, for a freshman in college with no car, being able to reflect on my day and getting to say that I sat at my favorite spot on campus and read my book, feels good enough. Hopefully one day I will continue to create my own agenda, and I’ll be able to lie down in bed and think to myself how liberating it feels to say that I ran through the streets of some foreign city earlier that day.