My guest blogger is Missy Bedell, author of The Literal Mom. She loves helping parents through a comprehensive improvement plan that gets parents to think about their own parenting. She raises some good points in her piece today regarding the benefits of giving back, both in our personal lives as well as in the blogging community.
The happiest people I meet are the ones who have found a way to give back. People who understand that in order to feel good about yourself, it’s not what you GET from others, it’s what you GIVE to others.
When I was a brand new mom back in early 2002, I didn’t have a blog yet. I actually didn’t even have a computer in my home. The horror! And I was lonely and so confused about my new life. Heather recently wrote a beautiful post about this very issue.
I spent the first year of my oldest daughter’s life wondering what had happened to me. Why was I miserable when I had the very thing I’d always wanted – a baby?
Eventually I learned the reason…I wasn’t giving back yet.
I left a very public service job. It didn’t pay much, but I helped people who very rarely get noticed in life. And I was tired of it. I was exhausted by their demands, by the pressures of never being “finished” with the job. I thought that having a baby would change all of that.
And is it no surprise that my “new life” as a mom was exactly like the old one? Except, I wasn’t getting paid for this new life. I was exhausted all the time. She never stopped crying unless I held her, yes, 24 hours a day. I felt completely cut off from “the world.” I would sit in the 3am dark and look out the window thinking everyone’s lives were going on and mine was in limbo. I felt that my life had become an endless loop that I didn’t like. All of this despite my love of my baby.
I wasn’t giving back yet.
Fast forward 8 or 10 months and I received an invitation to join a volunteer organization. Yes, it was the invitation-only kind and I know some people don’t believe in those. But I leapt at the chance.
First, because I was so lonely I could hardly breathe. I needed people and meaningful human contact in the world’s worst way.
Second, because I believe giving back tops the list of important things we do with our lives.
And I found over the next 4 years that the more I gave to this organization, the more I got out of it. When I put myself out there to become a leader, I began to regain my confidence as a woman. And bonus – I started getting more confidence as a mother. That organization became a stepping stone for me to another organization and another and another.
Today, I’m the President of a Board of Trustees, a Treasurer of a Home and School Association, and an event coordinator for a statewide parent day.
And NOW I’m advancing my writing career, what I always wanted, and one might think my rubber band could snap from the stretching I do.
But you know what?
It doesn’t, because all of my giving pays me and my family back; in confidence, in leadership skills, in community building, and in the knowledge that I helped someone. Everything I do for my own children, I try to do on some level for the educational organizations I lead. I am a better person because of what I give back to others.
Blogging is the same for me.
It would be easy to say “this blog needs my attention more than anything else. I don’t have time to meet other bloggers, reach out, comment, join groups, jump into Twitter conversations, guest blog or help other bloggers spread the word about their blog. I only have time to write my posts and wait for comments to come in.”
But, like my life 10 years ago, that would lead to loneliness, the feeling that the blogging world swirls all around me without me.
So I give back in the blogging world. And the more I give, the more I receive. When I take the time to meaningfully connect with people’s posts, when I help a new blogger, when I offer to guest post for someone to ease their burden, I am giving to them.
But I’m also building a community. A community that helps each other, makes each other stronger, stands behind each other on hard days/weeks/months – much like the Theta Mom® Community.
I encourage you to give back in all that you do. Life is much, much larger than your own role in it. Volunteer at your child’s school, find a cause that means something to you and give your time, talent or treasure to it.
With blogging, make the effort to connect with people. Hold a new blogger’s hand. Reach out to help a busy blogger. Think in terms of “how can I help someone,” rather than “what can this person do for me?” You will be a better person for it. You’ll be happier, for you will have made someone else’s life easier for a time. And in the process, you’ll find what you are looking for without even trying.
And that is what life is all about.