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Most of my activism is done on panels, committees, board work or anonymously as a peer counselor. January, was presented with the problems of three individuals who were not strangers and had nothing to do with any organization. These were people I already knew who had problems, and I was in a position to try to help. can say that [DID help two of them, but ‘one was completely beyond my capabilities ‘The one I couldn't help was an experience of, complete frustration, Inmy various activities, have access to much information, plus I've been through so much myself that T have experience in many different matters. Unfortunately, this made me think that Icould at least advise almost anyone. The one person I couldn't help was a wake-up call that this isn’t always the case. At first, T even thought that I had contributed to the individual's problems, and ittook talking to several people, before I saw that I just happen to be present when this person's problems came to a head. Still, it didn’ tmake the experience any less frustrating. It just taught me that there will never come a time when I can know everything I would like to know. There will always be limits to both my knowledge and my ability to help. So, what do I do with this new lesson? Actually, not much. T'Ml always try to help anytime I have an opportunity. This lesson justtells me that sometimes I'll fail, and that 1 shouldn't worry myself unnecessarily, and that I should just go on My friend, Shawn, was recently asked to participate with a committee up in Virginia, and he felt completely unprepared. As it turned out, all he had to do is to listen and express an opinion on occasion. Pretty much a pleasant experience. One just has to be willing to participate and to help when the ‘opportunity arises. Shawn is prety new at all of this, but I advised him to just do whatever he felt capable of doing and to try not to express opinions when he had no basic knowledge of the subject. He'll probably turn ‘out as a better speaker of his HIV/AIDS experiences once he's participated in more of this kind of work ‘When I first joined the local HIV Planning ‘Council, I felt much like Shawn, and during the firstfewmeetings,Ibasicallyjustsatthere listening without speaking. It takes a while to absorb ‘what's going on and learning what the limits and capabilities ofthe councilare. Ittookalittlemore time after that before I could see how I could contribute. mnowparticipatingandcontibuting, bbut I know that there’s much more that I could lear. Ijusttry to limit myself to matters that can use my particular talents. Hopefully, with the passage of time, my talents will develop sothat I can do even more When I look back to when I joined the board of AIDS Survival Project, I sometimes, think, “What the hell was I thinking?!” Twas the greenest of the green! Fortunately, the position T took on the board, secretary, was basically just clerical work, which I can do, and we've had training sessions that have taught me much. Still, there’s much board work in which I'm lacking the proper talents, but Pl do what I can So, what's the point of this column? Primarily, to note thatone CAN dosome good with limited talents, as longas one isn’t afraid tofail oncein awhile. There’sSOmuch work to do in the HIV/AIDS community, and too few people trying to do it all. If one has no experience in some matters, one can still gain the right experiences tohelp. One only has to be willing to ty.