Photo by Robb Kassen

I’ll let you in on something: I’ve recently come to the realization that I can’t do and be everything I want to all the time. And I know what you’re thinking, “of course you can’t” – and I’d like to say I agree with you, but the truth is that I – and I think we – can often set unreachable goals and expectations for ourselves we end up feeling like we’ve failed. And I’m not only speaking to the startup gurus and entrepreneurs – but to the students, parents, athletes, and college grads who work nine-to-five jobs while still trying to find a way to pursue their dearest dreams. So, where, and how, do we find the patience and understanding with ourselves to know our limits and continue to move forward?

I encountered my first reality check, my “mountain,” when in Cambodia last year doing research for my project, Global Populace. My partner and I had been jetting around Phnom Penh in tuk-tuks all week when we arrived at a small center outside the city to interview four women from the local Borei Keila community. However, we quickly learned that their branch of the community was no longer “local” and had been unlawfully evicted to the countryside 45 minutes from the city without access to jobs or resources. As for the rest of their community, they had been left living in the rubble of their now demolished homes next to a construction site where new, ten-story apartment buildings were slowly pushing them out.

We interviewed them, heard their stories, and visited what was once their community. We learned that they were essentially in legal limbo meaning their land had been illegally seized from them for development based on a faulty contract. Despite receiving legal aid, their case is slow moving and the entire community continues to live in terrible conditions. Their struggle is tremendous, and with a number of organizations already trying to advocate on their behalf, both nationally and internationally, I wondered how I could possibly help.

This community became part of my mountain, and I’ve wanted so badly to find a way to move it,  to solve the problem, and when I realized that I couldn’t, I felt like I’d broken a promise to myself. Yet, I think that each of us need to remind ourselves daily that we aren’t meant to move mountains alone and that we are far more impactful when we are patient, not just with our own limitations, but with each other’s.

We often set such high expectations and goals for our work, our friendships, our projects, and our personal lives that it can be easy to lose sight of not just how to accomplish the things we pursue, but why we are pursuing them in the first place. And this is why each of us needs to step back and be okay with the fact that we can’t do and be all things all the time, and instead have enough patience and understanding to allow ourselves to just do and be our best. Then, together, we will move mountains.

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At Conscious, remarkable people and organizations inspire us, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight human-interest stories, global initiatives, innovation, community development, and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.

Editor’s Note: Conscious Magazine has teamed up with Kellie Kreiss, Co-Founder of Global Populace, to tell stories of impact that encourage an exchange of ideas. Find out more about Kellie Kreiss in this interview here. Follow the  series.