Why Should You Volunteer to Find Yourself?

Does having a full wallet help you find yourself in this life? What if we value our time more than we value our money? That could be a wholly different philosophy of life.

By valuing our time, we realize not just that life is short, but that every moment we let slip away during our haste or procrastination, we miss out on so many potentially enriching experiences.

What if you could combine learning about your passions and abilities while earning blessings from your time? This is why you should volunteer to find yourself

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

Worrying trends show that the spirit of community service may be in decline. A report from the University of Maryland Do Good Institute shows rates of volunteering among Americans has dropped to a 15-year low. Thirty one states are experiencing critical dips and no state shows an increase. 

We often associate volunteering as a youthful pastime, though the age group which tends to volunteer the most is 35 to 54.

Despite the fact that young people in high school engage in extracurricular activities to make their college applications more competitive, during their college years the rates for volunteering quickly fall.

This is unfortunate since studies show that volunteer experience can increase your prospects in the job market. 

It is somewhat counter intuitive to mention the personal benefits of volunteering, since it is essentially supposed to be service without any expectation of reward. But here are three quick reasons why, if you are young and have time to spare, volunteering may be worth your while.

You Discover Your True Passion

Many young people are told by society to consider a narrow and fixed career track from an early age. This conservative approach restricts us to a limited range of possibilities.

Volunteering is an easy and risk-free way to contribute towards the social good but also expose ourselves to different areas outside our comfort zone. 

Sometimes, this exposure leads to long term passions. As someone who helps runs an urban farm, I can’t tell you how many bankers or engineers I have met who volunteered at a community garden once and ended up becoming full-time farmers. 

You Make Deep Connections

When you work in an office, often the only thing that connects you to your colleague is the fact that you walk on the same piece of carpet. When you join other volunteers, what is connecting you together is a shared passion towards the activity you have dedicated yourself towards. 

It is a great atmosphere to build lifelong friendships between empathic individuals.

You Develop Life Skills

Depending on where you volunteer, you can gain awesome life skills for free while giving others a hand. The most immediate skill is social communication, allowing you to develop self-confidence when speaking with others in a less pressured environment.

Volunteering at a women’s shelter, for example, would be an ideal opportunity to learn how to listen with intent and know if you have the skin to counsel others.

Volunteering to help promote causes like cancer awareness can teach you important skills in branding and digital marketing. The options are endless. 

If you are looking for a place to start, it is best to look next door. Your local community center or college normally have dedicated volunteer programs which can peruse. If you want to venture even more outside your comfort zone, then you could consider volunteering internationally.

An organization I would highly recommend to check out for global volunteer placement is AIESEC, the largest youth-run volunteer NGO in the world. Don’t take too long though, precious memories await you in your volunteer journey ahead!

First published: August 2019

About Saqib Sheikh
Saqib Sheikh is a media lecturer by trade and writer by passion. A Pakistani-American, he also serves as Project Director for the Rohingya Project, an initiative on financial inclusion for stateless Rohingya worldwide, and manager for Urban Hijau, a sustainable urban farm located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.