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.