The University Network

5 Myths vs. Truths About Volunteering

Try googling “volunteer opportunities in [your city]” and you will find TONS of places where you can use your talents and time to make a difference. I mean really, there are so many organizations and volunteering opportunities out there that you are bound to find one that matches your skill sets and preferences.

But so often, the biggest challenge– for many of us– is getting started. Now, before you give up on your search or decide that volunteering “isn’t for you,” here are:

5 myths vs. 5 truths you NEED to know about volunteering!

Myth #1: You have to be passionate about a cause (passionate enough to take action!).

➳ Truth: You don’t have to be passionate.

So often, people dismiss the idea of volunteering just because they feel that they’re not “passionate” enough about a cause. This is nonsense! No “passion” is ever innate!

A spark of curiosity is all you need, but you will never know until you start.

Are you interested in learning more about a cause or an organization?

Have you come to the realization that serving only your self interests is futile and boring? Do you want to make a difference in other people’s lives?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are more than “qualified” to volunteer!

Curiosity ⇢ Interest ⇢ Involvement⇢ Passion

Myth #2: “Now’s not a good time to volunteer.”

➳ Truth: There is no such thing as perfect timing. You just. do. it.

Research, set a date, and sign up. And show up.

If you are busy now, you’ll probably be busy later. Also, busyness is never a good enough excuse for anything, really.

Myth #3: You need to be familiar with the work you will be doing.

➳ Truth: Setting foot in something unfamiliar may be uncomfortable at first but that is the exciting part! 

We all gotta start somewhere, right?

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. – Neale Donald Walsch

Myth #4: Once you get involved, you can’t get out.

➳ Truth: Starting doesn’t mean committing. You are allowed to explore!

A volunteer by definition is someone who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.”

Besides, nobody wants a volunteer who volunteers begrudgingly out of obligation!

Myth #5: It looks good on your resumé.

➳ Truth: (Okay, that’s not a myth) BUT that’s only an added extra benefit, NOT the main one.

Here are the REAL benefits of volunteering:

A. It empowers you. Knowing that you have the power and influence to make others happy and to make a difference will empower you beyond your imagination.

B. It humbles you. By taking the focus off of yourself, you are seeing the bigger picture. You’ll see that there are so many problems in the world that are bigger than your own, and seeing them with your very own eyes will make you empathize with others more and sympathize with yourself less (thus helping you break out of victim mentality or depression).

C. It transforms you. Nick Vujicic (below), an inspirational speaker, founder of “Life Without Limbs” & the author of “Life Without Limits,” said this:

Sometimes the best way to heal your own body, mind, heart, and spirit is to serve as a source of comfort and support to someone around you. Filling the bucket of someone else may replenish your own.

Bottom lineVolunteering, ironically, is less about “helping others” and more about helping yourself.

However, when you realize that helping others is essentially helping yourself, you will come to know the true meaning of “volunteering” and experience real, authentic joy. You will find yourself doing things that you would have never imagined, and had you backed down before you even tried, you would have never found out what you were capable of doing! So again, if you are even mildly interested in volunteering, put down your worries and just do it ;)!

Good things will come.