Giving a Little


I’ve come to realize that giving a little isn’t enough.  It’s a constant in life, at least if I want to have any quality of life and any sense of self-worth.  When I stop and sit on my laurels, I don’t actually have a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Instead, I have a general feeling of guilt that I didn’t step up and volunteer for something. 

When people say, “But you already do so much,” that to me is a cop-out.  I always argue this, because I never feel that I’ve done enough.  Yes, I have done a lot, yes, I will continue to do a lot, and yes, I truly think that what I did could have been done better or more fully.

See, I seldom think I did the absolute best job volunteering for something.  Usually, I realize I didn’t put in top-notch effort, and I think of how much better something could have turned out if I had, in fact, put in the amount of effort and planning I should have.  And yet, I know that if *I* don’t volunteer, it might not get done at all.  So I have this bizarre sense that I need to help out, but I don’t put all the effort into it that I could, and so people feel good that it gets done, but it doesn’t get done the way it would if one of the uber-super-awesome people volunteered to do it.

I think the reason I don’t commit fully to these tasks is that I don’t genuinely have the passion for them, and I am just stepping up to do them because no one else will.  I know it’s different when I truly feel inspired to take on a project – that’s when I devote myself to it fully, and I really try my best to make it work, not just to make it through.

I think I need to come to a place where I can allow myself to let go of the resentment I feel about being “forced” to volunteer for things.  If I can let go of that underlying feeling of resentment, I think I will be able to live more fully in the task and do as good of a job as it requires, not just limping along with it. 

My fear of doing it poorly also plays into this.  I don’t want to do a bad job of things, but I often don’t feel particularly passionate about doing them, so I procrastinate until the final product is “the best I can do at the last minute.”  If I can just let go of the fear of doing it poorly, let go of the resentment about doing it at all, and embrace the task, I think I’ll be able to make volunteering, giving, a rewarding instead of taxing.

I actually tried not volunteering for something this year at my kids’ school.  No one else stepped up to the plate to make it happen.  My kids, who had enjoyed participating in it last year, did not get the opportunity to be a part of it this year.  In all honesty, I didn’t feel equal to the task, and I wasn’t keen on the time commitment, but the fact of the matter remains that my unwillingness to take it on meant that no one got to participate.  The task for which I did volunteer was not done really well, but at least it meant that everyone in the school could be part of it, and one student went on to the state level of competition (not that I had anything to do with that student’s individual accomplishment). 

So even on those days when I feel that I have given enough, it just means that I need to let go and ask what else I can give.  And maybe, just maybe, that will mean I might set a good example for my kids.


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