“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Gandhi
Being a broke college student made the idea of volunteering all summer a little unappealing. I wanted to make bank before the upcoming school year, and also be able to pay for all the food I would eat this summer and any adventures with my friends. But instead of taking a nicely paid office job thanks to my parents business, I chose to work as a volunteer for my summer.
By volunteering at two separate places throughout the course of the summer, I would be getting solid experience under my belt. I was working with animals, both in different environments, creating relationships with all kinds of people, and learning a lot about myself. I knew if I could get up at seven each morning, force myself to go into work, and still not get paid for it, then I was on the right career path.
I know money isn’t everything. But relying solely on the savings I hadn’t dug into during the school year makes it hard to choose to go out to fancy dinners or head to an amusement park for the day. I’ve been watching my money extremely carefully while occasionally giving in, and its getting harder as time goes on.
But by sacrificing my time and potential earnings, it has shown me how truly passionate I am about the field I am going into. Volunteering is definitely a real job and real labor, and working for non-profit organizations makes me feel good. I am making a very small difference, but it is still a difference nonetheless.
I decided to spend my summer volunteering for selfish reasons; for myself. To find out how compassionate I was. To feel like I was doing something worthwhile. To know that I didn’t need money to have fun, even if it made life a lot easier. To understand that hard work doesn’t always pay off. To leave a better trail for those to come. To make a difference. To gain a piece of myself I never had before.
But volunteering has also taught me that its okay to feel happy about the work I am doing. That no matter how many hours I put in, a barn will still get messy. That every animal I help treat is one less animal living on the streets. That the best person I can be is who I am when I’m around what I love. That sometimes I don’t want to help, but I do anyway. That people can be worse than animals. That there will always be more to do. That my boots are meant to be muddy, that my jeans are supposed to be dirty, and that my heart should be full of hope.
That no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. That I matter.