I know some of my personal posts I've made have a lot to do with feeling lonely, not fitting in with others, worrying about people judging me, but wanting more genuine connections with other people. As you know, I'm an introvert. I'm not a social butterfly, and my list of friends is very small. The types of relationships I seek out are deep and genuine. I don't do well with small talk and casual friendships. This can be hard, because I can't and don't want to change who I am, but I also want more people in my life. I noticed when I made posts like this many of you relate, and share these feelings and similar challenges. I want to offer up a possible an idea that has helped me with some of these challenges.
About a month ago I started volunteering with the SPCA of Central Florida. My official volunteer title there is "Kitty Cuddler". Cute, huh? I go in 3 hours once a week, and help to socialize kitties and find them new homes. Now, I'm going to try to find more time to go in because I love it so much!
What I've found in just my short time of volunteering is not only helping animals brings me joy, but the people I work with there bring me joy. The great thing about an volunteering environment is the people who are volunteering with you are there for the same reasons as you. They want to help others. They want to bring love, care, and happiness to someone/something else. These are admirable and genuine qualities. These are not people who are looking to get ahead or for some sort of personal gain. You know the intentions and the character of many of these people right off the bat. This is already a shared connection and common interest.
In the short time I've been volunteering. I've been welcomed and accepted by a group of strangers who genuinely want to get to know me, are happy I'm there, and enjoy having me around. This is the best feeling in the world. I can't even tell you. I've never felt like I "fit in" somewhere before, but I do there for the first time in my life. It is absolutely such a double win because it feels good to be able improve the lives of the cats I work with, but also improve my life at the same time. There is so much to gain from volunteering that is beyond the obvious.
The reason I bring this up, is not to be preachy about doing good and being selfless. I'm not out to gain any attention for what I'm doing because I know there are millions of people who do so much more than myself. That being said, volunteering is very rewarding, and if you have time I recommend it. The reason I really bring this up is because I really think for those of you who have struggled with making friends or are looking for me authentic and deeper connections with people, I think you will find a lot of what you seek in a volunteer setting.
Like I said, people who volunteer already have kindness in their hearts. The environment is not about each other or yourself, it's being there for others. The volunteer environment is a already a positive, welcoming, and friendly environment. You have a lot of guarantees there that you will not find in other social settings. Of course, I know not everyone is going to be your friend or a great person, but I think it's a great start. If you have an organization you are fond of, look into volunteering for them! I highly recommend it, and I think you will find it provides a lot more reward for you than you ever would of thought. I know for me, this is probably one of the happiest I've been in my life.
Its was so nice to read your experiences from volunteering. I'm like you that its hard for me to make friends as well. This post is really encouraging me to start volunteering now since it sounds like a wonderful time and a nice way to make new friends. Thank you for sharing this personal story of yours.ReplyDelete
This is such a great story. I've been thinking I need to take a knitting class or something to meet people as I seem similar to you. Plus I love cats. Thank you for sharing.ReplyDelete
You mean Happy Caturday =^^= I've been volunteering at my local humane Society for 2 & 1/2 years, and it is indeed a rewarding experience on many levels. So glad you found something that makes you feel so good :)ReplyDelete
I am proud of you, Kitten Cat.ReplyDelete
That is how I ended up a chaplain. I started volunteering and loved doing it, but I also loved the people who did it. You never know where life will take you.Your blog reminded me of this quote by Emerson "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can
sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson
P.S. I love my daughter!
The first part of your first paragraph describes me to a tee. I have no friends in real life so I've turned to the internet to try and make some but I have failed doing so. I've thought about volunteering to gain some work experience but the thought of doing so gives me anxiety. It sucks. Lol. Anyway thank you for this post.ReplyDelete
Great post! Volunteering can change your life and make you realize what is really truly important in life. I have a Therapy Dog and we visit patients in two local hospitals; it has completely changed my view of life. Not only have I met amazing people; I've got a better perspective when I go to work... I'm less likely to be pulled into all the drama and nastiness that can often be found in the workplace. I've also have some amazing conversations with some of the patients that helped me to see things in a different perspective.ReplyDelete
Steph, I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you from the very bottom of my heart and soul for volunteering at the SPCA, it means so much to those shelter animals for them to feel that they are loved and cared about, especially those that have been neglected and/or abused. My hubby and I do cat rescue and I am very involved in trap/neuter/return of feral kitties and advocate and educate about the importance of spaying and neutering and responsible pet ownership and have nothing but respect for others that volunteer to help the fur babies, so thank you again and sooper dooper big hugs to you, it's so rewarding to know you are helping the fur babies and we also have a saying about volunteers at our Burning Man regional event we have that is 100% volunteer run which is "Volunteers Rock and are Mad Sexy too :))ReplyDelete
(((( HUGS ))))
Awww...yay for you, my family has two black lab therapy dogs and I admire, respect and love that you have a therapy dog, thank you for doing what you do. We actually had to retire our older lab from therapy dog visits this year due to a breathing issue he has and it's made him physically depressed so Mom still takes him about 2 times a week for short one on one visits, therapy dogs KNOW they are helping people and it's so hard seeing Buddy get depressed, he was actually one of 2 dogs in our area that were in the top two for therapy dog visit hours. And, hugs to you Kelly for doing what you do :)))ReplyDelete
And, hugs and love to you too for volunteering, this post from Steph has made me so happy to read :)))ReplyDelete
Liesl, hugs and love you too girl and by the way, your blog is one of my favorites too :))))ReplyDelete
((((( HUGS ))))
Do it, it will make you feel so good. :)))ReplyDelete
And, I totally just shared the link to this post to my Facebook wall as a must read for all my animal friends :)))))ReplyDelete
You are awesome for being a volunteer! You ROCK Steph :).ReplyDelete