To Be The Change You Want To See by Phaedra
26 Oct 2017 11:58 AM
Move-in day freshman year was arguably the biggest change I had ever faced in my life. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t left my hometown or that my parents worked on campus. My life was drastically changed anyway. I went from having my own room to sharing a small space, from having three siblings to having three roommates, and from knowing what I was doing to being clueless again. Change is scary, but I’m going to share with you how I have learned to accept change and even promote it.
In the first few semesters of college, I was often encouraged by faculty and staff to be a change agent. Being a change agent seemed like a less than desirable position to me. I associated being a change agent with being assertive and challenging the status quo. I am the kind of person who avoids conflict and leads quietly, so advocating for change seemed to be something for the loud, outgoing leaders to do. For a long time, I shied away from the idea of leading change, especially in the context of social justice. However, I realized recently that I was already being a change agent in my own way. I had gotten so caught up in the way I thought a change agent should act that I didn’t see the ways in which I was advocating for change in my own spheres of influence.
My definition of being a change agent is being intentional in pursuing a vision for my community. I want all of my communities to be loving, supportive, understanding, and inclusive. To create a community with these standards I need to stand up for what I believe in and make a difference where I can. Part of being a change agent is leading by example and demonstrating the behavior you want to see. Another aspect of being a change agent is addressing behaviors that do not support the goal of a supportive community. In my experience, it is important to be a patient leader and not expect everyone to understand where you are coming from or to have had the same experiences as you. One challenging component of change is that people often need time to adjust, but even if change is slow, there is still progress being made. In order to evaluate progress, I find it helpful to set goals.
Establishing goals for my communities is the first step I take as a change agent. As a Community Adviser, I want my residents to trust me and to agree with my vision of an inclusive residence hall community. As an Honors Ambassador, I want my peers and future honors students to work towards building an uplifting and supportive academic environment. As a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, I want faculty and staff to incorporate diverse perspectives into the classroom. As a member of The Salt Company, I want my church to show love to all people. All of these goals are achievable as long as I advocate for them. These communities are my spheres of influence, and they are where I make my voice heard.
As a leader and a change agent, I want to make change less scary. I believe that despite the uncertainty change brings, really good things can be the result of change. A quote by Robin Sharma states, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” It may be challenging to advocate for change and to stand up for what I believe in, but the end result is worth the effort.
As I reflect on the past two years, I can see the ways in which my communities have benefited from accepting change. As I continue my education at Iowa State, my goal is to be purposeful in promoting changes which create a more positive community experience. Change is inevitable, and I hope I always remember to approach it as an opportunity for improvement.