The Volunteer Syndrome

For anyone who has ever been a volunteer or spent their free time dedicated to a cause or initiative they feel passionate about, you’ll know this feeling all too well. The experience starts off with you bursting with energy, you want to do everything and anything and spend every living part of your life involved in it. You feel the goodness in what you do and you don’t mind how much time you dedicate to it. Because it’s worth it. But then there comes a point where your actions become robotic. Everything falls into some sort of routine and your once beloved-volunteering starts to feel like a chore. You don’t feel like it’s doing anything for you anymore. Sometimes, we find that energy again and we’re back on our feet and other times, the very root cause of why we volunteered in the first place is replaced with a distaste for the lack of benefit you feel obliged to receive.

You hate it.

You leave.

Trust me, I suffer(ed) from this syndrome too. For as long as I’ve known, I’ve always taken my time out to give back somehow, it’s just my way of trying to stay feeling human. But more often than not, I get so caught up in the whirlwind of whatever it is that I’m involved in that my energy levels decline and I quite literally feel the need to take a time out. For ages, I’ve been trying to figure out why this is. Surely if you once loved something so much, it’s worth the hard work right? Then why does it not work like this?
You do a hell of a lot. That’s why. You’re just ‘doing.’ What once required a thought process and a deep understanding of why you are doing what you are doing slowly loses its meaning. Because with everything you are doing, you are not giving it’s equally due right to reflect upon it and remind yourself of your initial intention.

THINK about what you are doing. Let it serve as a constant reminder for you. Appreciate how the experience is letting you grow and if needs be, take a week off to reflect on your experience so far and then jump right into it. Don’t look for gratitude within others but be grateful for how much the experience is teaching you. The worst thing you can do to yourself is constantly keep going, with no real motive anymore and then rely on others to remind you how you feel. You’ll only hate the person you’ll become.
To every single person who has ever spent their time out for a positive cause or project or initiative they love, I’m proud of you and you should be too 🙂

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