Community: Putting Yourself Out There
Posted under: Mind, Lifestyle, Community
So it is said, and so it is true… Life happens. For whatever reason and through whatever chain of events, you have arrived at where you are today.
We may wonder where ‘here’ actually is. At some point we may really question what we have accomplished and whether it was worth what it cost. We perhaps some great personal victories and at times faced a few humiliating defeats. Mason Cooley once said, “Self-hatred and self-love are equally self-centered.”
Many of us today have found our former support networks, or our bond with them, to be fragile. This may have included work, church, family or even the loss of a spouse through death or divorce. When those bonds were broken, we did what we had to do. We survived and moved on, often to a more independent, self-focused, and less social life-style. Eventually, we start looking to reconnect, when we realize that a well-rounded life is being involved in things outside ourselves.
One of the ways to do this is to get engaged in your community and building new, meaningful relationships while engaged in some common task. How does one get started?
Start by looking at your areas of interest and think about what you have to offer. These areas will usually be much more rewarding and your commitment longer-lasting if it is an area that connects with your interests or perhaps background. Not a necessity, but a place to start. Here are a few categories to consider:
- Become a mentor. Mentoring provides you the opportunity to directly impact an upcoming leader in your field. The Mentor/Apprentice relationship is one of the strongest relationships most people have in their professional lives. It offers great personal reward to both people involved. Perhaps working with young people or getting involved in a literacy program might provide such an outlet.
- Consider teaching or coaching. Local boys clubs, adult education centers and churches are often seeking people to help teach various skills. If you were into sports, try coaching or refereeing at the boys club. If you are a skilled artisan or craftsman, teach underprivileged youth or families how to support themselves. This type of network will provide you with a group of people with similar interests and the added benefit of contributing to the success of others through something you already know.
- Volunteer to serve on city or non-profit boards/committees. Community government and charitable organizations often seek resident input and participation, especially people with relevant work experience and education to oversee less experienced management or help steer a large community project. You can often find a listing of available openings on city websites or by contacting your local charities. You may have to do some asking around to find out what’s happening – but it’s knowable.
- Consider some of the more common volunteer opportunities. Area churches, non-profit and community groups such schools, historic groups and parks, retirement centers, shelters, hospitals, soup kitchens and museums always need help. If you have limited time or constraints, you may want to consider “virtual volunteering.” If it can be done via the internet and a computer, then it can be done at home or any location with a connection. Tasks like writing and editing, research, and web design, or website maintenance are a few of the possibilities. Serviceleader.org and volunteermatch.org are just a couple of the websites created to help connect virtual volunteers with places in need
Volunteering in the community adds another dimension to your life, bringing a different perspective to a life that may have become a bit too self-absorbed. The level of commitment and involvement is completely up to you.
Take the time to step outside of yourself and make a difference in the life of someone else. You might be surprised by the difference it makes in your own life.