If we learned anything over the course of this last year, it was that self-care and finding a balance between our different responsibilities is essential. Some found they had far more time to work on themselves. Some found themselves stepping into the role of teacher and had no time at all. With COVID there were far fewer opportunities to serve in the community unless you could find opportunities online.
This push for women to take time to care for themselves is wonderful. Sometimes, however, this goes too far. I’ve seen many women miss out on opportunities to serve in their community because they had created a personal care schedule that they refused to shift from. It’s true, volunteering and working in a community is not always the easiest thing and might not come at the most convenient times, but there’s nothing compared to the perspective and joy it can bring.
When you put too much focus on personal self-care and stop looking out into the world around you, you turn your world into an echo chamber. The only joy you find is the joy you created. A much more potent joy is to serve others and seeing their smiling faces. Moreover, the memories you create last a lifetime.
Start small, an hour here and there to see what your strengths are. Most people discover that this type of work is not only gratifying but energizing. The crazy thing about spending energy caring about people and the world around you is that when you do, those around you will show you how much they care about you in return. That’s pretty awesome.
How to find opportunities to serve
The easiest volunteering starts in your own neighborhood. Check with your local schools if they are looking for help in any way, they always have projects that you can sign up for. Libraries also will post opportunities on their bulletin boards. Look for projects where your skills can make a difference.
If you’re looking for a broader type of volunteering, here are some helpful websites:
- Volunteer.gov: https://www.volunteer.gov/s/
- Volunteers of America https://www.voaut.org/
- Love Volunteers: https://www.lovevolunteers.org/
- Volunteer World: https://www.volunteerworld.com/
How volunteering helped me get published
A few years ago I decided it was time to get more serious about my writing. The best way to grow in any field is to surround yourself with people who know more than you. This led me to join the League of Utah Writers, Utah’s oldest writing institution. At first, I was overjoyed to have found a group of like-minded people who shared the same goals. As I made friends, different volunteer opportunities presented themselves and I ended up in charge of several events. I can say with certainty that several key people I got to know through these events are the ones who are now part of my publishing team.
Here we are, two books and seven collaborative anthology projects later and I’m still finding so much joy in continuing to volunteer for this organization. In fact, this weekend I’ll be at FanX as a panelist. If you’re coming to the event, I’d love to see you! Find me at booth #1236.