by Kelley Slone
How do you know if you are truly making a difference in this world?
How can change happen?
How can the world really use you?
I wasn’t sure.
These questions were difficult and uncomfortable for me to answer. But StartingBloc believes that we need to sit in that discomfort in order to create deep, systemic change in ourselves and in our world.
Imagine a place where deep topics aren’t off-limits. Where hard conversations aren’t pushed to the side, but brought to the surface. Where diverse perspectives form the backbone of a community, and where doubts and differences are embraced and encouraged.
This is the StartingBloc community. And this is where change happens.
When I first heard of the StartingBloc fellowship, I was unclear of my direction in the social impact space. A college friend of mine told me about the StartingBloc conference, a 5-day institute experience that culminates into a fellowship of social impact. They assert that the world needs better leaders to create a world that truly thrives. We participated in immersive and interactive seminars presenting frameworks on dialogue, leadership, and transformative action. Conversations with other fellows centered on being open about our experiences and viewpoints while being receptive to the differences of others. We actively wrestled with the discomfort our complexities can bring up, in the service of moving towards something better.
One exercise called “Polarity Mapping,” brought that discomfort home.
In it, I admitted to myself how I compromise my beliefs to avoid conflict. And I got to see that I could be flexible, yet assertive. Seeing how these two things were complements rather than opposites has already changed my life. And daily, my roommates and I agree how the dishes are handled, and my classmates benefit from my ideas.
Redefining how I perceive my abilities showed me how I could finally bring my whole self into my work. When thinking about what I am striving for, it was so easy to ignore the qualities I wished I could change. But these are the qualities that make me whole, and I saw how they were opportunities to empathize with others and discover a better way, together.
I feel almost guilty that I can’t fully put into words how StartingBloc will change you.
People discover things in different ways – sometimes a speaker will state something that resonates. Maybe a conversation will spark a whole new way of looking at a social issue. Perhaps it’s the supportive silence that will reveal a truth for you. But that’s part of the point. A world that we create, that works for all of us, will be unique and transformative for each of us. I can’t define that for you. That’s where you come in.
So, how do you make a difference in this world? You have to start from a real place. Your work, and why you do it, needs to be aligned with who you were made to be. Discovering your power will produce more clarity on how you can share it, helping to shape the world that we truly want, together.
Kelley Slone is a graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications at Georgetown University. A connector and communicator by nature, she enjoys collaborating with others to contribute to a higher purpose. Kelley loves to create buzz, and has a proven track record of advocating for other’s needs. She recognizes the important role education plays in creating and inspiring future leaders, and hopes to begin a career making educational opportunities available for all who are willing to learn.