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As with any new experience, entering the world of community service can seem like a daunting task. You might be overwhelmed by all of the different issues you see every day in your community and find it hard to know where to begin. Or maybe it’s something you’ve never really thought much about before, but now that you’re considering getting involved you have no idea how to go about getting started. Either way, this how-to guide is here to help you get started with a few thought-provoking questions and some easy first steps that will hopefully start you on your journey to engaging in service that you feel truly passionate about.
Take a second to think about your life, the experiences you’ve gone through, and all of the major events that have helped you become the person you are right now. How did you get to where you are today? Who was there to help you along the way? Are there any particular moments that stand out above the rest? Hardships? Triumphs? How did these events shape the way you think about the world?
While these are valuable questions to think about in general, it’s important to consider your history and recognize how it has impacted you whenever you’re trying to start something that you want to be especially meaningful. The best kinds of service are the activities that you engage in because you’re passionate about them, not because you feel obligated to do them. Identifying what in your life has had a sizable impact on who you are can bring you a step closer to finding an area that’s uniquely important to you, and this can help you narrow down what types of opportunities might be right for you.
What is the one thing in this world that makes you happier than anything else? Maybe you can’t help but smile any time you see a dog go by or when you watch a toddler waddling down the sidewalk. Maybe you crave the inner peace that you feel when you’re out hiking in the woods or swimming in the ocean. Maybe you love how reading a book takes you to another world or the way that a warm meal and good conversation can bring people together unlike anything else.
Everybody has their bliss in life, the trouble may just be finding it. But by taking some time to question what it is that can bring you joy even on your worst days, you’ll be moving in the right direction. Once you find it, you can use it to guide you toward service opportunities that will not only allow you to help others but that will also bring you happiness along the way.
Now that you’ve taken the time to figure out what’s most important to you and what makes you happiest, you can start looking for ways to connect these parts of yourself with service! The best way to do this is to talk to anyone and everyone you know about your interests and aspirations! Tell them about your recent journey of self-discovery (AKA steps 1 and 2) and how you’re trying to start engaging in service that centers around these newly realized core values. Guaranteed, there are many opportunities out there for you to connect your bliss with service, you just might not know about them yet. By talking to people about it, you’re more likely than not to stumble upon the information and connections you need to start getting involved. So, go out into the world, tell people about you passion, and see what doors it opens for you!
Article by Johanna Chajes. Johanna is a neuroscience major and president of Nu Rho Psi Honor Society. In addition to serving as a Community Engagement Ambassador, Johanna also participates in the Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority.