It Has to be You

This is the first ever guest post on my blog.

Niall Doherty was one of the first bloggers to welcome me when I started. Both of us like to push ourselves out of the comfort zone, so his guest post is fitting. Here’s Niall of Disrupting the Rabblement.

A couple of weeks ago, I was staying at a hostel in Ireland. As were a bunch of college kids. They came back to their rooms late one night and woke everyone up. They weren’t shouting or falling around drunk, but I was across the hall in a private room and their chatter reached me easily.

I lay there awake at 2:56am, listening to these pesky kids, frustrated, hoping they’d soon shut up and go to bed, so I could fall back asleep and get some much needed rest.

Then I remembered something I’d read a few days prior, about Julien’s experience at a hostel, and how he told a guy talking loudly on his cell phone late at night to zip it. His point:

Nobody else will ever say anything, ever. It has to be you.

Those words repeated themselves over and over in my mind as I lay there. A younger me would have resisted getting out of bed and confronting the offenders with a lame excuse: If I get up and face them, I’ll be all excited afterwards and won’t be able to sleep.

Fuck it.

I got out of bed, opened the door, and confronted them in the hallway, telling them to shut the hell up, that people were trying to sleep. And in all fairness to them, there wasn’t another peep after that.

But when I lay back down, as expected, my heart was beating like crazy. I couldn’t get back to sleep for another hour.

But it didn’t matter. Nobody else would have said anything. Everyone else who’d been so rudely disturbed would have lay there and waited for those kids to shut up, secretly frustrated.

It had to be me. Even if it meant lying awake for an hour after, waiting from the beats to drop. At least everyone else could go back to sleep.

The evening before that incident, I attended a Toastmasters meeting. A guy named Damien was giving his first speech to the club. It was entitled The Power of One, and he told of his experience battling the Christian Brothers in Ireland for more than a decade.

He’d been abused by them as a child, as had many of his classmates. In the forty years since he’d moved on from that class of 36, a dozen of his former buddies had committed suicide, and many more had gone on to live lives of poverty and/or crime.

For too many years, nobody said anything. At some point, Damien realized that it had to be him. And there he was, decades later, speaking up on behalf of his fallen and forgotten classmates, standing strong and telling their story, trying to right wrongs. He’d already made a huge positive difference, helped expose a lot of wrongdoing, and he’s still working at it.

So whether it’s something minor like telling a few kids to shut up late at night in a hostel, or fighting back on behalf of countless shattered childhoods, know that you must be the one to make a difference.

Because nobody else will ever say anything, ever. It has to be you.

Niall Doherty is the chief rabble rouser over at Disrupting the Rabblement, and a big-time advocate of thinking for yourself, living your dreams, and pissing off zombies. He embarks on a three-year trip around the world without flying starting on October 1st.