Maddy Budd

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My job means I have two main roles. One is to influence and lead and then other is to listen and seek out inspiration so I can share meaningful information with the people who follow me.

I hate the term but people often refer to me as an ‘influencer’, and while it was never deliberate I’m still aware that I do have an influence.

We all do in a way, and it’s up to each of us to be thoughtful about how we want to use that influence.

The way you influence might not necessarily on social media, or on a stage, or by writing an article. You might be a teacher influencing a student, or a family member influencing your siblings or your kids, you can influence your friends and you can influence strangers, we all influence everyday.

Being aware that you have an influence on people and thinking about how you want to use that influence is something we should always but may not always do.

Growing up in New Zealand female and half Chinese means I have faced many challenges, which have all contributed to the person I am today. There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to issues around race, gender and sexuality in NZ and the challenges I have faced in my life I believe are due to a lack of understanding around these things. However I’m thankful in a way for the challenges I have encountered because that is what helps me to empathize with things that other people go through.

Because I understand these issues and have an influence I feel it is my responsibility to use my influence to help people gain more understanding around these issues, in the hope that the understanding leads to a positive shift in the way people think.

I think about the people who are following me and how I want to influence them every time I post a photo or publish a tweet. I think about how I can influence them to be more open to people who are different or how I can talk about my own quirks and insecurities in a way that makes them feel included and not alone in the challenges they might be facing. I want to help my followers from every background to embrace who they are and embrace others.

The only reason I have the confidence to do this is because other women and friends I follow and listen to have done the same and inspired me.

They talked about the challenges they faced as women and as people who weren’t Pakeha and I could relate to that. They were open about things that had happened in their life that made them feel insecure and small and not ‘normal’ and they fought back and showed me women can do anything, so can any person from any race and there is not such thing as ‘normal’.

Those are the things that helped me understand and overcome my own insecurities and that is the reason I now use my influence to share those experiences of my own. It’s all in the hope that someone will see or hear these things and it helps them in the same way as those people helped me.

We are all capable of the same amazing things and deserve the same amount of respect but sadly we need to be reminded of this ourselves and a lot of other people need to be reminded of this too.

There is still a long way to go, walls still need to be broken down, and our own confidence needs to be built up.

If you’re reading this you probably already know that, but just let this be a little reminder to use your influence, you all have it. Use it today to remind somebody they are important and to fight for progress, understanding and equality.