So... I wanted to start a little series here and see how this goes. I want to be genuinely honest and transparent with you about some of my experiences and maybe some of your’s, too! I think we can agree that the life of a volunteer can be somewhat of a roller coaster and even when we think we’ve got it all together, there’s that surprise just around the corner.
The idea of being my daughter's troop leader was exciting and terrifying at the same time. If you know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not the most leaderish type of person. Let me start off by saying this, I am an incredibly quiet introvert. In fact, I go unnoticed most times and I’m the person in a large group that sits back and absorbs what everyone else is saying without even muttering a word. I can admit I have a little bit of social anxiety but the truth is I hate small talk. It’s not that I don’t like meeting new people, I just didn’t have anything to really say to strangers or someone I didn’t have an established relationship with. To speak to people, I didn't know, made me anxiously uncomfortable. I would literally have a physical reaction where my face would become flush and I would jumble my words. It would drain the crap out of me and so I would try to avoid situations where I would have to socialize with people I didn't know...lol It felt like a public speaking class.
So you can imagine the idea of leading a troop of Girl Scouts was terrifying to a socially anxious introvert -Social anxiety and being an introvert are 2 very different things. I've learned in life that we can't stay in our comfort zone for too long. Stagnation will keep us from moving forward and achieving great things.
So I had to ask myself why I wanted to become a volunteer.
Part of the reason why anyone volunteers is because of how they were brought up. I was raised by parents that believed in service. My mother was a part of our school’s PTA. My father was always volunteering to coach our baseball or softball teams. With three kids, he had to rotate each year but he always made the commitment despite working hard each day in a labor-intensive job. My father was a great man always willing to give to the community. He was always at the church helping out with random favors, keeping up its appearance or changing out the decorations as the holidays. I grew up watching my parents be a part of the community and so when I started growing up myself, I knew that was what you were supposed to do.
I was also exposed to a wonderful mentor at a young age who encouraged and impressed upon me to be a leader. She started off as a Mom to one of my friends and then became my troop leader daisies through brownies. She went on to become my youth group leader all through middle and high school and I still keep in contact with her today. Many times when I’m struggling with something I ask myself “What Would Kathleen Do?”
I remember the moment I decided I would do it, become a troop leader. I had read the recruiters email over and over like I was expecting the words on the computer to change. I had inquired about a potential troop for my daughter and to my disappointment, there was no leader but there was an opening! An opening that I could fill. So I took the leap, closed my eyes as I hit send on the reply email to the membership recruiter.
Becoming a troop leader has helped me personally grow in the direction that I had only dreamed about. So much so, it's not just for the girls sometimes it is for the adults. So I empower and encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, and say to yourself "Hey I can do this". Take the leap and say YE! Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Push yourself more and more each day so that, eventually, the anxiety melts away.