The Fourth Estate Summit 2013

I won’t outline every moment of every day of the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit 2013. I could, but I won’t. I will tell you that we heard from some of the most esteemed and devoted members of the human race (new U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power for one; Jay Naidoo, Sophia Bush, and 1500 fellow attendees for a few more).

The Summit is an annual event hosted by Invisible Children. It is a gathering of activists of all ages, though most of us were 20-something-ish. The event itself is three and a half days long and is part-TED talks, part-film festival, part-concert series. It’s unbelievable.

This was my first year in attendance. Beforehand, I was excited but also very nervous that I wouldn’t make friends. I’m really bad at getting to know people in such situations. I was freaked. I shouldn’t have been. The Fourth Estate is the nicest group of people ever. I’d made friends before I’d left the airport.

So by the time I left on Sunday morning, I was hugging folks and sad to be leaving and utterly exhausted and unable to process it all (because you can’t fit so much mind-blowing into three days unless you get very limited sleep). All I wanted to do was cry; I was just so overwhelmed and sad and confused.

Now that I’ve processed a little, I’m going to process more: by typing out my thoughts/feelings.

The event motivated everyone to be active, get back to work, end the LRA for good. It made us all want to raise more cash, take trips to Central Africa, work for Invisible Children, and devote ourselves entirely to justice for all. But, um, hello: I’m about to be in school again. And work again. And, oh yeah, I’m the new Editor-in-Chief for the school paper and I have no staff and I’m freaking out and OH YEAH ALL OF THAT. When can I raise money and run the IC chapter I’ve inherited by default and save the world when I’ll be too busy editing sports stories and reading Faulkner? And oh gosh I would love to intern with IC or move to Uganda when I graduate, but wait: gradschoolteachingjobhusbandbabiesherbgarden401k WHEN IS THERE TIME?

I know in my heart that the world needs people who’re doing what they love and what they’re good at. And I know in my heart that there is exactly enough time for all of the important things. But the idea of going back to a world of short-term, small-scale stresses and successes makes me want to cry/die/quit everything. At this point in my life, the easy way out is to give up at the little stuff and devote all I’ve got to ending Africa’s longest-running war. If I were to do that, I’d do a lot of good. But I’ll do way more good by:

working hard in school

being an awesome student ambassador, recruiting great students for a great institution

recreating a gorgeous school newspaper

taking care of myself

devoting only what I have to devote to the LRA cause

This is sustainable. This is proactive and balanced and for the best, I have no doubt. It’s just hard to handle the idea of it after a weekend that was so energized and unbalanced (such beauty could never be balanced) and life-destroying (in the best way possible).

It’s a struggle I happily endure, though I’d rather endure it with your words of wisdom in my back pocket. Leave them in the comments, or email me at, if you prefer.

Love love love.



  1. You have many years ahead to make an impact on the world, and I have no doubt that you will–don’t feel you have to do everything at once. I’m looking forward to having you back at Centenary and to seeing all of the amazing things you will accomplish.

  2. I just found you through Google. I was look for the name Ellen Orr. Many years ago I had a relative named
    Eleanor that wrote a newspaper column called Honey Bayou. She wrote under the pen name Ellen Orr.
    I just thought you might find that interesting! I was hoping to find something more about her but alas did not.
    I enjoyed reading your blog.

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