It’s been a while since I’ve blogged as lots of things have been going on (sounds more dramatic than it has been!). For those who don’t know I’ve volunteered at a children’s charity for a number of years, since May 2010 to be precise. As it’s Volunteers Week this week, it naturally made me think about my role as a volunteer and what makes me volunteer.
Volunteering is not a completely altruistic thing, at least for me. I remember studying altruism in Psychology and my tutor claiming there is no such thing as true altruism. I naturally thought about volunteering as giving up your time for no money, isn’t that altruistic? For me, part of my volunteering is that feeling of giving something back, it makes me feel good about myself. I’m not ashamed about saying that is part of the reason I volunteer. I like feeling good about myself and knowing I’m helping someone.
Volunteering also makes me more aware of myself. It’s no coincidence that awareness developed during my counselling role led me to become very aware when I needed help a couple of years ago and sought that help, something I probably should have done a long time ago. Sometimes hearing about the lives of others makes me have a massive reality check and appreciate what I do have rather than what I don’t.
It’s also led me to create and maintain some friendships which I am increasingly grateful for. I ended up being bridesmaid to one of my fellow counsellors as a result of our friendship created through our volunteering role. There is a core group of 7 who still regularly see each other outside of our shift and the content of those meetups…well…shall remain secret!
I can’t see a time when I will stop volunteering. It makes me get up on a Saturday morning (admittedly not too early) when I probably would have slept in. It is there in the back of my head encouraging me to do better, to reach out and speak to new people and ultimately is one of the things I add to my list in my head when thinking about the purpose of life.
There are lots of people I know who don’t class themselves as volunteers yet who spend a large part of their day doing things over and above what they are expected to do, either through their work or personal lives. Reaching out to other people, being considerate, caring. It may just be part of being a decent human being but during Volunteers Week it’s particularly poignant I think to remember and take the time to thank someone for being that person who was there when you needed them, not because they had to be but because they wanted to be. I definitely have had to rely on a few people recently for various things so thank you. You know who you are (Yes you!).