Alright. Last time I talked about working on my confidence, it was mostly about the superficial stuff. I call it that rather flippantly: I do see it as superficial and I see the importance of liking what I see in the mirror.
I’ve got new hair and I’m slowly updating my wardrobe. The body image stuff is still difficult, but I don’t loath what I see as much. Any progress is progress.
The next part I need in helping my confidence is interacting with others. I’ve been challenging myself to talk to five strangers daily, and it’s been working. Highly recommend doing this. The cashier, your barista, someone sitting next to you in line/on the bus, online etc. Now, I need something a bit bigger.
I used to volunteer a fair amount while in university and during my breaks. At the time, work was out of the question (still is, actually). I’ve had successes and failures, learning each time how to improve.
Why do I think it’s helpful?
Gets me out of bed.
I’m one of those types where if I know someone is counting on me, I need to follow through as best as I can. Having a scheduled day while going through the symptoms of chronic pain, mental illness, or even a detox keeps your mind off the crap and into what needs to get done. It very much helps me stay in the present.
Personally, I disclose some of what I’m going through to whoever is the volunteer lead so that if I need to bail, it’s understood why. This has been helpful two-fold. One: it helps me recognize when to say no (boundaries), and two, persons have checked in with me making sure I am okay. Experienced volunteer coordinators expect a percentage of people who sign up may not be able to complete their task, and from my experience, have plans B to Z ready in their pockets.
Flexible on what you can do.
Say I’m feeling rather sore from a flare, but the event I’ve signed up for is today. I was going to do something that required physical exertion. All I have to do is tell the volunteer lead, and my task will be re-assigned. I’ve yet to volunteer for an organization where you can’t change how you’re helping out. From stuffing letters to marching in parades, there’s a plethora of choice.
Socialization and networking.
I’ve met so many different people with various backgrounds, and still talk to some today. These same people usually have social anxiety issues themselves, accepting my quirks. Have I gotten along with everyone? Absolutely not. It’s great practice on navigating both the positive and negative of interacting with people. I’ve also felt a sense of community and inclusion at time where I thought no one gave two shits about me.
Sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes small, sometimes big. Getting out there and doing the task I set out to do (even if I only got half way) reminds me that I can still learn, share, and grow. Sometimes it starts with that small action of getting out of bed. Bonus, all of the experience I gain are actual skills I can apply to future endeavors.
Now, it’s a matter of deciding where to volunteer. I think my next post will be about Volunteering 101 when you have mental illness and/or chronic illness. The thought’s intimidating, which means to lean into the fear.
Do you volunteer? Let me know how in the comments.