Start with Marbles: Building Belonging and Trust

Category: Fraternity

Christine Keylian

Beta Mu, Nevada

Part of the human experience is searching for our tiny corner of the world where we feel comfortable being authentically ourselves. Whether that be with a person, a group, or family, we are looking for a place we belong. We are looking for people who will accept us as we are, value our presence, and make being vulnerable feel safe. We are looking for people we can trust.

Taking the effects of the pandemic into consideration, this tiny corner of the world was made much harder to find. Communication became digital and impersonal. Opportunities to build genuine trust and belonging with new people were put on pause.

Navigating trust and belonging in the middle of the pandemic seems daunting, maybe even impossible. It makes us wonder how we can build something so meaningful and so grand when we have been in and out of social lockdowns for the past two years.

Let’s start small. Think marbles.

Brené Brown and researchers alike have found that trust is built in the smallest of moments. Brown specifically uses marbles as a visual for these small moments. She explains that when people act in ways that prove they are worth trusting, they receive a marble in their marble jar. As time goes on, we are able to look at the people in our lives and choose to trust the people whose marble jars are full.

Being an active listener, remembering small and seemingly insignificant facts about someone, offering to pick up or drop off someone at class because the weather is bad, spreading little acts of kindness, and even “this song reminds me of you” messages are all small moments that build trust and belonging among college students. A common marble jar moment shared among college students is when someone they know waves to them on campus, even if the two people don’t know each other too well.

As we continue working to build back the trust and belonging that we’ve missed out on the past couple of years, remember to start small. One genuine conversation, one small act, one compliment, one smile and wave. Start encouraging and creating opportunities for these small moments. Pay attention to what the people around you need and be intentional about reciprocating that. As Brené Brown said, “Trust is built one marble at a time.”