This semester’s final blog post is from Southern Miss Event Services Coordinator Ashley Grant. Ashley completed her undergraduate degree and her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) here at Southern Miss, and has worked in her current job for almost two years. Ashley’s post is all about the value of community service… which is perfect to think about during this winter season. Enjoy!
Lemons. They are sour. They make your mouth pucker. According to our friends at Wikipedia, “The juice of the lemon is about 5% to 6% citric acid, which gives lemons a sour taste. The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in drinks and foods such as lemonade.” Sour little fruit.
When I was in college, I looked forward to community service project days with as much enthusiasm as I would taking a big bite into the biggest lemon you’ve ever seen. I was involved on campus, a diligent student always willing to lend a helping hand, and befriender of the underdog. Yet for some crazy reason, I detested community service. To me, it felt like a punishment. My opinion of the typical day of service was something like this: (1) you’d drive off into the wild blue yonder, (2) you wound up doing something that made you really hot, sweaty, and disgusting, (3) you’d work with some tool that made me feel like I was going to die or I was going to kill someone because it was shooting nails through walls, (4) there would be so many people around with hardly anyone giving you any instruction on what you were supposed to do because we’d all just arrived in mass, (5) and the nerd in me ultimately thought I could use the time to be studying. However, I also thought it was that necessary evil to boost your resume to make yourself stand out when I would begin applying for jobs one day. And then I had a revelation:
It’s not about you. It’s about them.
It’s about something greater than you can begin to understand.
That’s completely shocking and full of insane wisdom, right? I mean… it’s about them. By them, I’m not saying the less fortunate, underprivileged, etc. When I say it’s about them, it’s about giving to others each and every day. It is giving all that you have to those who are around you and not expecting anything in return. You give because you have the ability to do so. You give because we are all here to serve and love one another.
I was dining at a local establishment one afternoon and they had one of those carved stone signs with the phrase “Children spell love, T-I-M-E.” Time. While I agree with this assertion, I do think it can be applied to everyone. People spell love, T-I-M-E. With that being said, if you are struggling with your commitment to service or trying to figure out how you can do more, I recommend you take the time yourself to do the following:
- Get out of your comfort zone. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” It’s true. Getting out of your own head and your fears and diving into the unknown is worth it. Do what makes you nervous. The worst possible thing that can happen is that you don’t enjoy what you do that day. However, I have a feeling you’re going to love it. Use your energy to impact the lives of people in your community. You’ll feel more connected and discover new things about yourself in the process.
- Find out what you like to do. There are more places and people who need your time and your service that I can even begin to name. Whether you prefer the puppies, Play-Doh, pounding hammers or passing out peas, there is a place for you. Figure it out! Give them all a try! Use our on campus resource of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement to help find your way. Use community resources like Volunteer Hattiesburg to find out more information too if you’d like. Just take the time to learn how to get involved. When in doubt, ask someone. If they don’t have the answer, they can likely lead you to someone who does.
- Don’t give 100%. Give 110% or more. The only way you’re ever going to like serving others is if you give it everything you have. Think about it, when you’ve felt the most successful it’s typically because you have poured your blood, sweat, and tears (literally and/or figuratively) into a project. It’s the same for every task you undertake in life. Give it everything you have in that moment in space and time, and you’ll love the experience at the end of the day. For one day, challenge yourself to live a life for others and give back. A man much smarter than I will ever be said, “A life lived for others, is the only life worth living.” Considering the brilliant mind of Albert Einstein, I am inclined to listen and take his words to heart. Perhaps you will do the same.
Time. Time was what sweetened those lemons for me. Giving of my time and giving 110% of myself during that time is what made that lemon become lemonade. Don’t get me wrong, not all of the work that is needed of you is going to be deliciously sweet and satisfying. Sometimes the work is going to be plain filthy. However, I can assure you that at the end of the day, you’ve just helped create lemonade for someone else. So go out, find you some lemons, and make lemonade!