I found a great article about selflessness, called “HOW BEING “SELFISH” TAUGHT ME TO BE SELFLESS” written by a fellow blogger on WordPress. His name is Sky; he is a college graduate, a LGBT activist, and transgender himself. He wrote about how he believed that he was selfish by asking for donations for his surgeries, to which many people donated, including strangers, but his experience led him to in essence “give back” as many ways as he could think of. For example, Sky “began giving dollar bills to street musicians” (skylarkergil.wordpress.com). He “wrote a new, good friend a large check towards his top surgery fund” (skylarkergil.wordpress.com). In summary, Sky donated to many causes he believed in.
This really moved me because I had similar experiences, not with transgender surgeries, but with going to a week long non-mandatory college trip, called Alternate Winter Break, to Washington D.C. to help the less fortunate; this trip also helped fulfill my scholarship requirement which was to complete 100 hours of community service by the end of the year.
I knew very well that going on the trip meant we had to go to different organizations to perform a plethora of service activities that benefited the less fortunate. To be totally honest, and quite cynical, I would go to the extent of saying I was selfish in the beginning, I didn’t really care about performing these activities. I just went on this trip to complete the hours, not really to help the less fortunate. Go hate on me all you want, but trust me it does get better and will have a Disney fairy tale ending.
I do admit, in school, we equated doing community service with the less fortunate, and how it would somehow magically eradicate all the world’s problems, in fact, we read an array of articles about it. I never knew how or why it helped them. To me it was an unknown concept; it was just a thing we talked about. I wondered how these activities actually benefited people. I wondered if this magic word we use called “service” did in fact help solve the issue of bettering the lives of the less fortunate, as we all say, then why do poverty and homelessness still exist?
Fast forward toward the middle of the trip, half way through the trip still in for the hours. Again, I started to wonder how these service activities actually helped the less fortunate. After doing an activity, I was rather frustrated and bemused about how this activity benefited the less fortunate. It never dawned on me that packing lunches for less fortunate people actually helped them, even if I could not see their reaction or enjoyment. To me at that time, a task, such as packing lunches, didn’t seem like an activity that would benefit anyone because I could not see the receiving end. It felt to me as if I was wasting my time because I thought we were giving lunches to imaginary person.
I was perplexed, really, I was! So I asked, more like vented to, a roommate whom I at that time sorta- kinda knew. I vented to him how I felt about the activity and my disconnect about that one service activity, and service in general.
I guess, seeing my bemusement, my roommate decided to help. He and I had a conversation about the fulfillments and goals of doing service. Before our conversation, I thought community service was a foreign concept because I did not know what the heck I was freaking doing! Why was I doing service and how did it help the population I am serving. However, after my conversation with him I realized that even though I could not solve all the world’s problems, I would know in my heart that I just by being selfless and lending a hand to someone in need I already have made a difference in someone’s life. Just perhaps that one lunch I packed made a person cry with tears of joy because someone had cared!
Now you may wonder how this experience made my selfish way vanish? Remember, I was perplexed and frustrated about the connection between community service and how benefited the less fortunate. I was frustrated to the point where fumes erupted from head. Not to romanticize this event, but my roommate was being selfless by listening to me and helped me resolve this issue. He could have carried on doing his thing, whatever he was doing, but he listened. By being selfless he made me feel I mattered, it felt good, I felt better. He made a difference in my life. So through my experience, realized that being selfless actually made other people feel they mattered. Someone was thinking of them.