Many of you have been looking at a variety of ways to the study the self as a part of svadyaya, through trying the quizzes and exercises posted on this site. Hopefully you have been able to gain some new insights as to who you are and how you may be able to contribute to those around you. After all, we are not living here in isolation. You are more than a consumer. You are more than just someone who takes in what the world provides. You can be a catalyst or an inventor. You could be an inspiration or an innovator. You never know until you try. And how do you try? By getting out there.
As the weekend comes into full force, I want to encourage you to look back at what we have done this week and schedule some time for yourself (I suggest no less than an hour each day, but preferably more) this weekend to just explore some new ways of being. As Eleanor Roosevelt recommended, “do something that scares you, every day.” You can research a variety of activities for self-expression that we discussed earlier in the week. But there are other options as well.
Have you ever volunteered? In college I had no idea what to do with myself. I couldn’t settle on a major, and wasn’t really sure what kind of work would bring me joy. I was lucky to have been encouraged to get my feet wet by volunteering. It is so funny to think about now, how I would not have met so many important and influential people in my life without these experiences. I got to work at a convalescent center, a library, a refugee services center, and a library. I also got to learn the full ins and outs of a philanthropic organization (yes, and how to get a grant, while seeing who got chosen, and why), act as a Board member of a fledgling dance company and obtain resources for a theater group. I also got a chance to write for a new magazine at three points in my life. All of this happened before I turned 21. Once you let people know you really want to do something to help, they practically knock down your door.
This brings me to another aspect of this study. What are some realistic ideas about how much time you really have, and make sure you are clear about your intentions (and stick to it). It is good to say no when you need to. This is how other people get their chance. If you make sure to put your resources where you really want to, feel led to, then you will be more effective and more likely to avoid burn-out. You want to be pleasing to others, not rushed, irritated, or distracted. When you give, give of your whole abundance, not your stress. So, it may be that instead of finding more things to do right now, your work this weekend could be to take time to look at your responsibilities and make the decision about which ones to let go, for now. This is also svadyaya, self-study. You have no idea how just freeing your mental space of one unappreciated responsibility can lead you to be more focused, clear, and ready to connect with the people in your life in more meaningful ways. When it comes down to it, none of our efforts are really for ourselves.
Here are some of the ramifications of being overworked: http://careerplanning.about.com/od/workrelated/a/overwork_4.htm
Take a quiz here to see if you are doing too much.
With this in mind, think of some cool new forms of expression you would like to explore. Write them (2 or 3 of them) down. Then google “social services organizations” along with your town’s name. I live in a town of fewer than 10,000 people and I found 10. So you can certainly find plenty. You can see if anything jumps out. You can also look up theaters, dance, and art groups. Calling people or stopping by to see if they need any help is something always appreciated. Just remember – before you go or call, have a clear idea of how much time you can offer. You don’t have to offer 50 hours, unless that is what you intend. I have called places and said “I have 2 hours a week for the next three months on Thursdays. Do you need any help?” You can’t imagine what delight that small amount of time has been met with.
If you happen to be looking into a new career, this is a great way to start getting experience, by the way. You can work for a few places for free and see how they differ. You can try something and find out it isn’t right, but there could be someone there who knows something better suited to your skills and interests. The possibilities are endless.
Remember: be clear about your time and interests when you call or go by. It is good for everybody if you say no to opportunities that do not suit you. You are working for free and could be giving a gift to them of someone happy in their workplace. You can uplift people when you stay focused about your own needs and inclinations.
Have a beautiful weekend full of meeting new and wonderful friends.