by Kayla Myers, Family Peer Supporter
July 11, 2023
Throughout my life service work and volunteering were something I regularly did without a thought. I did it because I wanted to and cared deeply for human beings in general, even just having met them. I can remember volunteering was something I started doing as a young girl. My mom and I would drive from our small town to the bigger city with Wal-Mart or Payless, to buy shoes for children in our community through a non-profit that ran off donations. Or volunteering to help with children in classrooms, buying food for the homeless population, or giving clothes away that I no longer needed to someone who did. I became a Big Brother Big Sister when I was going to college. I was paired with a little boy who was a 1st grader who had experienced a lot of traumas at a young age. I remember at my age then, going to do something out of the “fun” college realm, felt like a chore. Not hanging out with him though. I always made sure I showed up to our Friday hangout at school, because I knew that I was one of the few adults in his life who did. And every time he saw me, he took a deep breath, a smile would emerge on his face, and he never stopped talking to update me on the week. I knew how much it meant to him. From then on, I truly understood the impact of how doing something for those who need someone to care about them so they don’t lose faith that people still can. This makes the difference, even when it doesn’t feel like you are making a difference at the time.
Now in my 30’s, after everything that has happened in my life, and the work I have done to overcome it all, I understand this concept more than ever. I say this thing a lot when I explain myself to people and some may take it as a weakness and maybe some respect my realness. I guess it’s truly the only way I know how to best explain my purpose on this earth. I say, “I am not great at a lot of things. I’m mediocre to say the least. Most people are great at something. For example, some are artistic, others are sport prodigies, etc. I am good at people.” I can get people to open to me because I make them feel safe in my presence. No matter who they are, their age, or what walk of life they come from. It is something I can always remember being natural for me to do, or people gave me feedback on. Communicating and connecting with humans as they are, that’s my gift and I am great at it! What I have learned and believe now, the pain and heartache I have endured during my life, it wasn’t for nothing. And while I never wanted my story to define me or be my identity, it is. I had a choice awhile back, let the hurt hold me prisoner, or use the hurt to break out of the cage I let myself stay in far too long. And now I choose to help nurture others while they find the courage to do the same for themselves.
All in all, what I am trying to say, is give back to others. I know it can be hard to give more of yourself when a lot has been taken, but I can promise from experience, it is just a mindset adjustment. Service work and volunteering your time is healing and when you give to others without the expectation that they won’t need to do anything for you in return. This way, without the expectations held to the idea of serving others, it’s simply something I am going to do because I want too. I feel better after every time I do, it is a gift I am giving by choice without an expectation attached to it, and it is healing the parts of me I needed. Be the person to others, as you wished you had when you needed someone the most. That is what life is truly about in my opinion. Not objects, things, or accomplishments, but how do I feel at the end of every day? If that answer is anywhere close to fulfilled, you are doing it right.