It’s been six weeks since I started volunteering for different charity projects in Amsterdam. I started it after I finished my full-time job and I got some spare-time. I also started it because I’ve always wanted to do it. I simply just couldn’t find the time to squeeze voluntary work in between my job, my social activities, sports and my family & friends. But now that I’ve been doing it for six weeks it feels so natural, as part of my routine. I really like how easily we all adapt new habits. But what I like the most, are the insights I got after only a few weeks of volunteering. I’ve learned so so much and I hereby like to sum it up for you:
I’ve learned that volunteers are very independent characters who start on these little adventures all alone. They are brave and confident to go out and do something for one another without thinking of their own comfort zone. They are very open for new experiences, new insights and meeting different people.
I’ve learned it boosts your confidence! It really does as everything you do to help is good and it’s very thankful work. Doing voluntary work gives you a satisfying feeling afterwards.
I’ve learned it helps you to become more open to others and new experiences. Which is something I think you can always learn to become better. I personally really enjoyed my personal growth in becoming more open and feel I’ve changed in my daily life.
I’ve learned it gives you a more clear vision of what really matters in life, a reflection of reality. Sometimes you need that I guess:)
I’ve learned status can be left at home, as everyone is treated equally and does the same work. I have met people from different levels of education and job-titles that perfectly work together on a voluntary project. You don’t need university to help, just a generous heart.
I’ve learned that time is not as present as it used to be in my previous job. As a volunteer, you know what job has to be done and you continue working until it’s done. Maybe with a little break for coffee. You can be done with a task in one hour, or in four. But people usually don’t look at the clock as much as I am used to. I like that!
I’ve learned phones and Instagram are kind of left-out during voluntary work. It seems like an unwritten rule but I haven’t seen anyone being on your phone during volunteering. Maybe it has been a form of respect. It gives you focus on what you are doing without distraction and clarifies what really matters.
I’ve learned that volunteers often struggle with the thoughts of wanting to do more, help more and take more weight on their shoulders. The world is such a cruel place to live for some of us, it’s likely to think you should do more one’s you’ve seen cruelty. This makes some volunteers very emotional and down, sometimes even feeling burn-out. I never knew volunteering could bring you such emotions and I know now it’s so important to reflect and stay positive. Everything you do is good. To remind myself, I keep repeating a quote on a daily basis: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Please stay positive dear volunteers, as you create little miracles everyday.
I’ve learned that volunteering can bring you new friends who are like-minded and like-hearted. I feel such a strong connection one’s you start volunteering in the same project. People are often very open and interested in each other without imposing themselves. As they are happy and willing to help others with volunteering, they most likely are also very helpful in other ways so if you struggle, have a question or like some advice: you may find a soulmate or soul-sister to help.
I’ve also learned you may find unexpected friends with lots of life-experience. As I volunteered at an elderly home, I got a really good connection with one of the ladies there. Nel is 80+ years old and a little demented, but we have such a good click. We talked for hours about our love for fashion, her trip to Gothenburg (where I used to work), her love life, her husband, her youth and she has the best sense of humor. I feel that learning from her life-experience is such a valuable thing and a great addition to my voluntary work.
I am curious what more insights the upcoming months of volunteering will give me!
I am definitely up for more as I am currently planning voluntary projects abroad as well. What will these experiences bring me?
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Packing foodboxes at the Foodbank Amsterdam
High-tea at the Noordermarkt (Amsterdam) with Nel and other ladies of the Elderly home. They loved it!
There were at least 100 elderly ladies invited for the High Tea and it was so well-prepared and fancy.