120/365 – How helping others gives me perspective 

This week has been full on. With the upcoming election, my work to-do list has appeared never ending. On top of that, I’ve spent two nights this week volunteering – my regular after work Childline counselling shift and hosting a creative writing session at a homeless hostel. This focus on others has been positive in many ways, not least as it has ensured I left the office at a reasonable time. 

I’ve been tired and so have struggled with motivation to go to these volunteering commitments, in the rare quiet moments I’ve been forcing myself to consider the positive impact volunteering has on me.

Why bother?

In short, perspective. Sure, like most people, I enjoy feeling good about helping others. Life is made up of a collection of tiny steps and at Childline I often get to work with young people as they decide their next one. The gravitas of those steps differ from child to child, but I get to play a part in helping them take ownership of their next move. During every shift I have at least one contact where I feel like by listening I made a difference to that young person’s journey. 

But, if I’m being honest, that is not enough to keep me going back week-after-week after long days at work. What is is the perspective it gives me. 

On most days I go into the counselling room feeling drained after the events of the day – by the time I leave I usually feel rejuvenated. Why? Because some people have real problems. My dramas and dilemmas of the day fade as I make others the focus. As my mind switches off my own monologue, what’s really important becomes clear. 

In the same way that it gives me perspective about work and life, it also gives me perspective about myasthenia. I realise that my health issues don’t stop me nor do they limit me much most of the time. For the main part, I’m free to be and do what I want and if I’m not happy with something I can change it. In this world, that makes me incredibly lucky.

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