Volunteering is not a crash course into rocket science, but it is a crash course into the deeper and finer things that make life a whole lot better. It is an opportunity, when taken, that opens our minds and hearts to the vastness of the universe, one that we can all contribute a song, a verse, a deed, and even a thought to.
But, yes, the universe is indeed huge. Today, there are about 8 billion people in the world, and that the actions of one person is small when compared to big-named philanthropists and socially responsible corporations. And aside from size and numbers, there are many other factors that affect our consideration of volunteering; questions like, “can I devote my time and resources to it?” or “am I even cut out to volunteer?”
But despite these questions, it is important to remember that everyone can volunteer and that these factors should not stop you from considering it. So, these are some things that you should remember when you volunteer.
- Everyone can and should volunteer, regardless of skill, race, or status.
Everyone can volunteer because we all have the ability to choose or choose not to do something––it is not politically, racially or economically exclusive, but a personal decision to or not to. Hence, everyone should take the opportunity to volunteer since it does not require anything from anyone but the choice to do something (and, of course, to commit to that choice). For volunteering opens the mind and blossoms an appreciation of reality. It provides us a way to view things from another vantage point to learn and relearn what we have understood about human life and the world.
- Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Creating your “why?”
Of course, making a choice can be simple if we look at things from a short term perspective. It is arguably easier to agree to a three-week project than commit to a three-year program. However, regardless of timeframe, volunteering can only be successful if we create and hold onto a “why” or a reason to try and try better. For everyone can choose to do something, but understanding why we do it is a more challenging question. That is why we need to create our ‘why’s, to firmly grasp a reason and stick to it when things become blurry and challenging. And these reasons can be anything that keeps you motivated, whether it is the vision of world peace or the earnest reason of wanting to help others just as how you felt cared by someone close to you. It is the reason that defines what kind of person we thrive to be.
- Time and resources are important, but so too is managing it
As a rule of thumb, managing your time and resources is more crucial than your actual time and resources. Learning how to use these things is what truly defines how you will get to your goal, for a vision or dream will remain ideas if one does not take the step of actually managing oneself and making use of what he has to make things a reality.
- Weaving together our safety nets
Knowing why and how are great and all, but you must also understand that you cannot do it alone. Volunteering can be challenging at times, that is why it does us good to know that we have a group of people we can rely on. It is in creating and forging healthy relationships with people are we given the confidence to take risks and try again. For if our solutions meant crossing a tightrope and that there is no net to catch us when we fall, then we may feel discouraged and never cross the rope at all. Our peers can encourage us to go far, and we, ourselves, can also be the motivation other people need.
- Volunteering, just like life, is about Learning and re-learning things
Finally, when you volunteer, you must do so with an open mind. You may be coming from a professional background or a college degree, but the very point of volunteering is that there is always something you can learn, whether it is from the life experiences of others or the volunteer experience itself.
There are things you may not have noticed before that was highlighted in the lives of others, that maybe you overlooked some details that meant differently to others. It is at that point do you learn something new and re-learn how you understood it. For to volunteer is to be in that constant process of defining and redefining the way we live because we have changed other, a change that returns to us as we are renewed as well.