04/20/2015 05:49 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 05:59 EDT

I've Realized That I Can't Create a Better World By Myself

Jordan Phoenix

Several years ago, while working for a civil engineering firm, I decided that the path I had chosen and worked hard for no longer served me. I didn't know what would happen next, but I knew that the route I was on was spiritually a dead-end that would never fulfill me. And so I went against the conventional route, and walked away. The salary, the sign-on bonus, the benefits, the paid overtime, the stock options, the approval from my family and social circle -- I left it all behind.

I was called crazy by many people close to me, but deep down, it felt right.

I then started a social impact-driven business on my own, in a new city, with no capital and no connections, during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression.

Needless to say, my idealism caused me to bite off more than I could chew. I was not ready for what was in store for me. I ended up plunging into the lowest, deepest, darkest phases of my life. I believed so strongly in my ideas and abilities to help others that I overlooked the reality of how hard it is to fully focus on this while still supporting oneself. The systems of the world are the way they are for a reason, and they cannot be changed overnight.

It took several years to bounce back from that, and climb out of the hole I dug for myself in the process.

Eventually, though, I did bounce back. I wrote a book describing my journey, my experiences, and my research based upon how we can create global systems that work for everyone; not just a privileged few.

I spent the greater part of a year walking along the west coast of North America, spreading my vision and potential solutions I'd discovered.

I met so many people who were supportive of the mission. I was blown away. I couldn't believe that people I'd barely known were willing to let me stay in their homes, or wanted to invest their hard-earned dollars into my vision.

I realized that it would not be an overnight process. It would take months, or maybe even years to move through the bureaucracy and put all of the pieces together.

But this is my path.

And so right now, I'm doing it.

I know that rooting in the San Francisco Bay Area is the right place in order to bring my vision to life, and build a model for the type of communities that can create fulfilling lives outside of the struggles of the poverty, strife, and/or purposeless living that have become all too common for way too many.

For years, I've tried to do it all as a maverick. I've been 100 per cent unwavering from my values; and in the past, I've turned down many opportunities to collaborate with people or organizations that stray even slightly from my purist intentions.

But this isn't my first rodeo anymore.

As I've grown as a person, I've come to fully accept that the world is the way it is for a reason. It is possible to change things for the better, but it cannot be done overnight, and it certainly cannot be done alone. There has to be some form of acceptance of the world as it already is, in order to work within the systems in place to improve upon it.

My greatest fear was always of becoming too comfortable. Of becoming a cog in the wheel that perpetuates the things that are a central cause of the problems in the world, and becoming too complacent to do the hard and uncomfortable work of going against the grain to use that power for social reform.

But I realize now that I can never be that person. For better or for worse, the struggles I've encountered while sacrificing the entire decade of my 20s have burned the sense of humility and responsibility into my psyche.

This is the beginning of a new chapter.

It's the end of martyrdom.

It's the beginning of an era in which I radically accept the world as it is. I accept that as one person, I must face the fact that I cannot save every starving child or suffering person on this planet while under-resourced in an extremely short period of time. It breaks my heart to admit this. But it's true. And I have to acknowledge this fact in order to be able to ultimately have the biggest possible impact throughout the course of my lifetime.

If the world is set up a certain way -- optimally focused for the greater good or not -- I have to respect those systems, because we all currently rely upon them for our survival. In order to change the world into something magnificent that has never existed before, we must first accept it as it really is right now.

And so my dream of creating 1,000+ Community Incubators worldwide to minimize and shield peoples' food, shelter and energy needs from the fluctuations of the free market continues. It has legs, and investors, and now a location as well.

What it needs is time for society to catch up, and for legislators and neighbourhood associations to understand that it is a positive force for good in society.

In the meantime, I am searching for a full time role (in business development, communications, community management, social media) working alongside amazing people on awesome projects that make the world better. I'm also looking for a place to crash while this begins to take shape.

If I've learned anything over the past year, it's that the more vulnerable I'm able to be, the more the world becomes vulnerable within my experience of reality.

And so it is.


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