Received on March 26, 2014
MAPS 4 College ended up being something completely different than I thought. I went into MAPS thinking it was going to be just another organization, just another extra-curricular, just another thing to write down on my college applications. I was wrong. This program was about to make a huge impact on my life and I didn’t even know. I started going to MAPS junior year of high school and honestly I’ve never been good at staying dedicated to a club or organization, but with MAPS it was different. I kept going because I enjoyed it. It was a place where we could all come together to talk and share things. It was a place where no one was more superior to anyone else. Sarai never forced us to go, she never penalized us or got mad if we didn’t go. I liked that. The first couple of times, I’m not going to lie, I was confused. I was only confused because I was trying to understand what MAPS was. At first we were really into the ACT and how to achieve our highest possible score on the ACT. I figured “Oh cool, I’ll come here to practice the ACT so I can do well and get into college…that’s must be what MAPS is about!” Wrong. The next time I’d go Sarai would talk to us about our purpose. The first time she did this, it honestly blew my mind. I had never thought about what my purpose was! I remember I went home that night thinking about everything Sarai had said and that was when I knew MAPS wasn’t just another organization. I don’t know if it was my curiosity about what this odd program was about, the people, or the free snacks, but I kept going and loved going!
MAPS has affected my life in every aspect. When I first started MAPS I was kind of shy, and wasn’t comfortable with speaking in front of large crowds. I was scared of sharing my opinion, even though I have an opinion on literally everything. I blame shifted for the smallest reasons you can imagine. I never thought about my purpose. I was happy in my comfort zone. I was many things that looking back at, I wish I would have fixed way before MAPS. However, I feel very blessed that MAPS gave me the opportunity to change myself, and I owe it all to Sarai.
I slowly started to see that I wasn’t shy, and that I loved to talk (because I did, just not in front of huge crowds). I started to realize I was becoming more open about my opinion and that I liked to share it, but still listened and respected the opinion of others. I think this change happened because at MAPS we used to all sit in a circular table, Sarai would ask us a question, and we’d all go around and say something. At first I remember I’d rehearse what I was going to say because that’s how shy I was at expressing myself. I used to do this in school also; I’d process what I had to say, then only say parts of my opinion, probably in fear of being judged. The process of all of us going around the table saying our opinion or input on anything and everything really helped me find confidence in myself. Now I love talking, I love getting others to talk, and I love being able to stand confident in front of a crowd.
I used to blame shift a lot. Blame shifting is basically the act of blaming things on others. For example, this one time my little brother was telling me about something that had happened at school that day while I was doing homework. I honestly wasn’t even paying much attention to him, I was just focused on sending the right PowerPoint presentation to my group members but I accidently sent it to the wrong person. I got so mad! I told him “See what you did! You made me send it to the wrong person because you kept talking!” It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. I was the one who hit send, I was the one who didn’t double check, and there was really no reason to be mad. It was a simple mistake. I guess I blame shifted a lot because I wanted to be perfect. So when I would mess up, I’d find it easier to blame others so I would still be the one who never messed up. I no longer blame shift and my relationship with my brother has been a million times better. I also no longer explode the way I used to, which I’m sure my family is very happy about. MAPS taught me that we aren’t perfect. We mess up, and that’s okay. I learned that I had to stop wanting to be like my neighbor, I had to stop worrying about what my neighbor was doing and focus on myself. I learned that competition shouldn’t exist. We should be the only person we are competing with because everyone has a different destination to reach.
So how did I stop blame shifting? How did I stop wanting to compete with others and realize we all have a different purpose? There isn’t really a formula. I remember Sarai simply told us these things, these things that I used to do on a daily basis without even noticing. When she pointed them out for me, I realized she was right and that I didn’t want to live like that. I’m going to be honest, it’s sooooo not easy, and till this day I’ll still sometimes catch myself doing it, but now I can detect it and stop it immediately before it happens. This change has to take work from the person, this change didn’t happen at the MAPS office, it happened when I went home, when I went to school, interacted with others. I had to slowly change myself.
MAPS has given us opportunities that I feel wouldn’t have been given to us without it. Sarai treats us like equals, she doesn’t act like a normal CEO at all. She allowed us to run an entire Out-of-State College Fair for our city on our own. She puts a lot of trust in us, and I feel like because she does we are so eager to help. Most adults wouldn’t have given us that kind of responsibility.
Sarai once asked me to go with her to meet with a bank who was interested in MAPS and wanted to know more about us. I thought this was so cool! We were going to meet a person of position and Sarai trusted me to portray MAPS the best way that I could. I remember that during the meeting the President was trying to put MAPS into a “category.” I never realized how protective I was of MAPS until I sat there listening to a list of types of organizations he was trying to compare MAPS with. MAPS can’t be categorized. It’s impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. MAPS is a verb, not a noun, it’s a form of living, it’s a feeling, it’s something I sadly can’t describe. You have to go through MAPS in order to understand it.
All I know is that MAPS is something that needs to go global. It will change the world, I promise. I’ve changed so much as an individual since I started MAPS. Now that I’m in college I am nothing but grateful for all the growth, opportunities, and experiences MAPS has given me. I use MAPS everyday while I’m at UC Irvine, at times I still ask myself “What would Sarai do” when I’m in sticky situations. What I love the most about MAPS is that Sarai does her best to be what she preaches. She is one of those insane dreamers that scares everyone with her ideas, humble about everything and anything, positive, and all the characteristics of a good leader. She makes MAPS everything that it is. She is the one who has taught us how to live a quality life. She may sound crazy, but she is wise and when she says MAPS can change the world, I hope people don’t take it lightly…because it can.