Ozymandias Lives

There are those people who can truly claim that they’ve

Invented a billion-dollar product

Or started an organization that’s saved lives

Or figured out the next step to finding some cure

Or made the world know their name a thousand different ways

(Statues built in their honor, billboards displaying their faces

Telling all, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”)

 

“One person like you can make a difference,” they say

(But not me, surely)

“Maybe when you grow up you can cure cancer, solve world hunger…”

How can I? I struggle to even find the right answers

To the question of how to make something out of myself let alone the world

 

I am not a valedictorian

Or salutatorian

Or the MVP of whatever sport

Or one of those kids in class who has lost so much

And still manages to push past depression and succeed

 

I am me:

Middle class

Average grades

Kind of talented at some things

(There are other people better),

Kind of bad at others

(There are other people worse)

 

What makes me special enough to change the world?

 

What they don’t tell us is that we don’t need to change the world

We don’t have to make a direct impact to 8 billion human lives

We don’t have to have our faces broadcasted across the world

(Though we can)

To make a difference

 

All it takes is a smile

(And anyone can smile)

 

I can

Smile to that classmate who sits by me

Smile to that kid who is surprisingly in class for once

Smile to that person sitting apart from the class

And then keep smiling

Because sometimes it grows until

 

I have a new friend (friends)

 

A friend who is as normal as I am, with her own other friends

And worries and stresses

But now she knows that I acknowledge her

My smile tells her, “Me too.”

 

(We’re now best friends going on to good colleges

She wants to go into biology and health—

Maybe she’ll be the one to cure cancer?)

 

A friend who has lost his close grandfather

Who is struggling against depression

But now he knows that someone knows him

My smile tells him, “I care.”

 

(He nearly dropped out of high school

Could’ve not gone onto college

But he’s worked to attend and we talk

About classes and games and everything)

 

And in return, when there are finals and projects and tests

And I want to tear out my hair or just not think anymore

I’ll be walking to my next class, keeping to myself

And someone will smile at me

 

She will smile to acknowledge my presence

He will smile to remind me of our last debate-turned-joke-war

Smiles that say, “I know you and you have changed me.”

And I will smile back

 

Because something beside remains

In the lingering fears of my mediocrity

The worry that I am one of so, so many fades

I have made my mark on the world

 

Because a simple smile

Given and returned

(And then multiplied into friendship)

Is something I have done and can do and will do

 

And the world will remember me through the people

Who stay with us to this day

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