Why volunteering is good for the soul (even if it’s cutting into your lie-ins)
As much as I miss rolling around in my bed feeling like a big toasty cinnamon bun (10 points if you caught the reference) at 9am, I must say that taking time out to volunteer is far more rewarding and valuable in many ways. It also beats having major bed hair and dry drool from your chin (yum).
Being in 2nd year Psychology, there are many of us that volunteer. Most of it is to enhance ourselves, such as improving our CVs to find after-undergraduate jobs, which is hard enough as it is in this declining economic climate (major thanks to David Cameron and co. for that). When giving talks to younger students during any open days I attend, or when I was e-mentoring school kids last semester, encouraging them to start up volunteering as soon as they can really help them in a number of ways. I always thought that those who left volunteering until the middle (or even the end) of their undergrad degree weren’t taking the utmost advantage of opportunities available to them, especially when you’re a first year with little on your timetable but a lot of time to really improve yourself extra-curricular wise. For example, charities such as Discovery rely on many enthusiastic volunteers, and is right on your doorstep to go to!
However, it is simply not just CV experience that volunteering benefits. Among having a volunteering review for Age Cymru, my volunteer coordinator asked me how my time helping out truly benefited ME, instead of just focusing on career goals and ‘looking good’ academically. It is then I realized that taking the time out for others allows, even a mere one hour a week, starts to make you feel good about yourself. It improves confidence, motivation and personal development across the long term. If you need an example, I’m definitely a good one. I’ve been volunteering since the age of 15, back when I couldn’t find any actual paid work. On the first day, I was trembling with fear and achieved a new level of clumsiness in my speech and work progress. Nonetheless, once getting the grasps of my work, I began to tremble less and enjoy myself more – and by the end of it I didn’t want to leave! As for now, I feel so much better about trying new volunteering experiences and am much more likely to seek out coordinators if I do need assistance, or even just a word about any troubles I have. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have the odd flutter of anxiety from time to time when volunteering, it’s just a lot less often and I have so much more fun without the fear stopping me!
Last, but certainly not least, volunteering allows the people you help to be happier, more competent and confident within themselves – which is first and foremost the whole point of volunteering. By helping somebody else, even if it is just one person, that change in behaviour or attitude rarely ever goes unnoticed. If you don’t get praise from your coordinator, then at least you know for yourself of the good things you have achieved through your volunteering body – and personally, I think that’s enough of a reward for your own agenda. Somebody that is more disadvantaged in order to need volunteer help will also very much appreciate your time out to selflessly (in theory) aid them in a way.
So, coming back to the point of my title, I hope I have managed to enlighten you into reasons that I think that volunteering does make your mind and soul (if you believe in that kind of thing) a better state. As good as sleeping-in or binge-watching TV shows is sometimes, doing other extra-curricular activities (not necessarily volunteering) is a lot more beneficial for your health anyway. As fun as being lethargic is, after a while of stuffing chocolate eclairs into your mouth re-watching How I Met Your Mother, you seem to wonder what life is like outside of your bedroom (this is assuming that you haven’t left the house in a week).
Thank you for listening for my rambles again, and if you are wondering how I’ve been coping throughout the rest of this week, I think my tweet sums it up perfectly (feel free to follow me too!):