Challenge one, complete! My first #challenge26 was all about taking advantage of the resources around me in my new DC/MD home, especially events and programs that satisfy my own academic and professional interests. This week I challenged myself to break out of my routine and comfortable plans and to also attend an event alone, in an effort to combat networking anxiety that I experience from attending events solo. I was able to fulfill all of the expectations of this challenge, but this week also motivated me to keep this spirit of exploration. I have also set higher expectations for my challenges in weeks ahead.
My week began with a volunteer experience at Central Union Mission, a service agency in the district that has been serving homeless and hungry individuals in DC for 126 years. Even though we went as a group for work, this was my first volunteering experience since moving from Ohio, and the stories we shared with the workers at the mission, as well as the apparent need for volunteers in the city has reminded me why it is so important to share my time, abilities and lend a hand. The shelter was so happy for our volunteering efforts, but I couldn’t help but to think about how much effort the organization put into accommodating our desire to volunteer. I spent my time sorting donated clothing items, but my thoughts were consumed with how important it is to be a regular, dependable volunteer. As stated in my challenge page, I hope that through my experiences that I develop better habits. This experience has motivated me to become a regular volunteer. In weeks ahead (soon) I will challenge myself to find an organization that needs my help and that I can provide consistent, dependable service.
The other major challenge for my week was to attend an event, alone, that included a topic that I am interested in. I chose to attend a lecture on Social Entrepreneurship, last Thursday after work. Defined by Ashoka: “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.” Social entrepreneurship has been a subject that has fascinated me since I first began to follow @beunreasonable on twitter last year. The lecture, sponsored by the Young Nonprofit Professionals of DC was informative, inspiring and the right challenge to begin my blog. I gained great insight on a new subject, a chance to meet interesting and motivated professionals and got me out of my routine. I absolutely faced the whole nervousness aspect that I have every time I attend an event alone, but hopefully the more that I do this, the more comfortable I will become just striking up a conversation and learning about new, interesting subjects. I am surely more motivated to do so now.
Since my challenge for this week was to try new things in the city, it was always in the back of my mind when making plans each day. Last week I tried three new restaurants, explored a new DC neighborhood, attended a museum exhibit that I normally would have passed and actively sought out new places and programs that I could try in the future alone and with others.
With challenge one complete, I am looking forward to week two and beyond. Have you accepted a week-long challenge yet? What are you doing to learn more about your community?