Balancing Voluntarism

Last Wine Night
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Volunteering has been an important tenet my entire life. Since before high school, in part due to my religion and the people with whom I associated (by choice or otherwise), being a part of something bigger than myself was key.

I helped, intensely with my church youth group and did various things throughout high school to be involved outside the “normal” range of activities. Then, I got to college. College, such a big big place, I wasn’t sure where to volunteer. I ended up spending some of my time in my dorm’s recycling group and I was appointed as my floor’s senator for the hall’s senate. (That’s another conversation about the triteness of politics and how to win elections.)

But, then, I got a little lost and couldn’t really see where I was or where I was going. I ended up taking a break from school and with that volunteering. In the years in-between, I’ve continued to fluctuate between work, school, volunteering, and now added friends and family commitments. The bottom line, for me, is that I cannot not volunteer.

The trick that I think I am learning, though, is how to balance it. The last few months have been involvement overload. I have been doing many things, not well, and that is no mark of success. I have varied interests, so I like to keep my interests varied. It helps me feel fresh and involved. However, when a 40 hour work week is tacked onto it all, with an 8 hour weekly commute — there just isn’t time. I end up feeling pulled in to many directions with a paralyzed inability to decide true priorities.

Out of Balance. Unable to manage the stress. Difficulty with the time management.

So, I’ve been paring down. I’ve decided I cannot do so much with my church. I will continue to read (every other month pending schedule rotations) but helping to teach religious education will have to wait until Levi is ready to join. I’ve been paring down my involvement with the Community Alliance of Tenants as I simply don’t have the energy to devote in the capacity that is needed. I’ve been giving up some of my tasks with the food club, slowly over the last few months, holding out on a few until proper replacements are made. The priorities, I have realized though are: family, food, and work. Housing and Church while in the top five, cannot have the same amount of time dedication.

Realizing the priorities, as is often the case, is liberating. It empowers me to say no without guilt. Realizing boundaries forces me to define the roles I want to focus on, knowing I cannot do everything because I do need sleep and a little boy deserves attention. So, along with everything else, lately, I’ve been learning how to balance my voluntarism.

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