Its in my nature to want to help people and get involved. If there is something I can do to help someone I will try to lend a hand. I think its partly driven by wanting to feel productive and making a difference. I think another part of it is driven by wanting to belong and feed connected to your community.
Volunteering is a great and noble thing, and so is being a member of your community, but there’s a limit. Everyone only has so many waking hours in a day and when we’re done earning a living and taking care of the personal maintenance there’s precious little time left over for friends, family and ourselves.
One of the things that came with maturity was learning how to say no. Saying no isn’t so much about turning down requests for help. A lot of the things I’ve gotten involved in over the years were things that I sought out or were commitments I took on myself. I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case it was more about giving myself permission to say no. To admit to myself that I can’t be everything to everyone and that sometimes I need to say no and not worry about who will step up and fill the void.
I won’t pretend its something I learned overnight and I won’t pretend its something I’ve perfected, but being aware of the problem was a big step in the right direction for me. It helped me decide that my family and my writing are two important focuses in my life and that I need to make time for them.
There are still many causes I feel passionate about and support, but I’ve learned there’s a big difference between supporting something versus trying to organize an event, draft a constitution, and design a website. Just because your capable of doing something, doesn’t mean you should take it on without considering the level of commitment first.