Matt St. Germain strives to bring some positivity into this world and others’ news feeds
St. Germain is a master’s student at Michigan State University. He makes it a priority to inspire and influence others.
Spartan Newsroom: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, interests and goals?
Matt St. Germain: I am currently pursuing my M.A. in communication with graduate specializations in nonprofit fundraising and international development. I will graduate in May 2018. I also completed my B.A. in communication from MSU. At the end of May 2018, I will depart for the country of Togo as a food security educator serving through the Peace Corps. I am interested in many things: public speaking, leadership, nutrition, health, farming, yoga, mindfulness, music, etc. (As a side note, I love The Lorax). One of my personal goals in life is to “inspire the desire to aspire” in others. While this is a goal I may never meet, I hope to live a life that inspires others to live selflessly and love abundantly.
SN: Why did you decide to become so involved in school and other activities?
St. Germain: I believe that to have impact on your community, you must first become an active member of your community. If every person in this world gave all they could of themselves to the betterment of this world, then we would live in a world that removes the prioritization of selfish ambition and focuses on simply loving those around us. Think about this: If every single person in Manhattan picked up one piece of garbage on the street today, there would be over 1.5 million pieces of trash cleared off the streets in a single day. Point being – we don’t always have to commit to organizations or large projects. We simply have to make the effort to do what we can with what we have with where we’re at.
SN: Why did you decide to start posting inspiring stories on Instagram and new people you meet?
St. Germain: Too often people do not take time to celebrate the extraordinary in the ordinary. It doesn’t matter our professions; whether we are a student, businessperson, janitor, etc., we all have the ability to love and celebrate others. More importantly, there is something in all of us that is worthy of love and celebration. My hope is that by expressing even small acts of kindness and gratitude, I might be able to encourage somebody else to do the same. The first selfie I took was somewhat strange for me, but I had this moment where I said to myself, “The only barriers you have are the ones you create for yourself.” Ever since, I simply choose to ignore the awkward social boundary people create because I have found that people generally appreciate being told they are loved and appreciated. It’s a great reminder that there are so many beautiful people in this world.
SN: Are there other ways that you promote positivity on social media specifically?
Besides my Instagram, I also aim to create positive Snapchat stories to encourage my friends, as well as Facebook statuses. I have also written a few articles that I share on my LinkedIn account, and hope to have my blog launched soon. However, something I’d like to point out is that just because I make positive statuses doesn’t mean that I don’t experience hardship. In life, there are times when it is absolutely OK to not be OK. In fact, many of the positive statuses I post are not just to encourage my friends, but they are also to encourage myself. I imagine if I am struggling one day to simply be still, let something go, or move forward from a difficult situation, that somebody else might be struggling too, and maybe it might help to know they aren’t alone.
SN: What other ways do you promote positivity and inspire people in your day-to-day life?
St. Germain: Since I was in middle school, I’ve had a quote by Leo Buscaglia memorized: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
I can’t say for certain that I “inspire” people throughout my life; I can only say that I aim to care and love for everyone I meet. I have found that the smallest things (e.g. a smile) have the power to brighten my entire day, and so I imagine they can brighten someone else’s day as well. With that said, I work to always find the joy in situations, have ears prepared to listen, be ready to speak genuine praises, smile at a stranger, and greet people with an enthusiastic “hello!” I believe that this is how we live a life of service. It’s not in big and grandiose service trips; it’s in how we choose to treat others and live our daily lives. Particularly when I have a bad day, I find that sometimes the best way for me to heal is to help someone else have a better day. After all, just because we’re having a bad day, doesn’t mean we can’t help somebody else have a great day.
SN: In a time where there is so much hatred and negativity, why do you think it’s so important to promote positivity on social media?
St. Germain: As Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” There will always be those who will tell you something cannot be done and the number of reasons you’re wrong. Haters gonna hate, right? With so many expectations placed upon people today from family, friends, work, school, etc., I think it is extremely important to have voices in the world that remind us it’s OK to take time to simply be still, and enjoy being you.
We live in a world of social comparison. People base their joy, energy, satisfaction, etc., not on their own life independently, but rather how they great they perceive their lives to be when compared to their friends on social media. Most of us, myself included, have been guilty of this at one point or another. However, we need to strip ourselves of our reliance on these comparisons, and recognize that our importance and worth will not be created by our accomplishments or jobs we have; we all are worthy of love and celebration. After all, people probably won’t remember us by our jobs or projects we work on, but they will remember how we made them feel. So why not have that feeling be of love?
SN: If you had any advice for other students, what would it be?
St. Germain: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Contrary to popular opinion, being vulnerable takes great strength and courage. One way to begin this journey is by simply writing down a few things you are grateful for, and spend some time actually experiencing that emotion (not just moving on to the next to-do list item!). Expressing gratitude and actually sharing the appreciation we have for others will not only improve the lives of those around you, but also your own. It’s certainly improved my own, and is one of the greatest reasons I experience so much joy.