Thursday, November 7, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 25

Today's blogging challenge: Describe a moment when you "paid it forward." What happened and how did it feel? 

Admittedly, I'm a typical only child. I am very, very spoiled; I strongly prefer to get my own way (and can be a bit of a pain when I don't), and I don't share well.

My closest friends say I'm "too good of a person" to be described as selfish. That's probably because I'm not (usually) selfish with my friendship, my honesty, or even my resources. Need money? If I have it, it's yours. Need time, or advice? I always have that to give. A shoulder to cry on? Anytime.

But try to borrow my stuff, or ask me to share my space - and we might have a problem.

But I do like to pay it forward. I have to admit, I've never done one of those things where I purchase the order for the person behind me in the drive-thru, or paid for the breakfast of the service men (or women) I see in the diner. I'm always tempted - but I get all tongue-tied in those situations and I feel like I'd mess it up, or look like a jackass.

I do volunteer a lot. I got into that after Trooper broke up with me, because I thought a positive distraction would be better than simply spending the summer eating my weight in fried dough. Between fundraising, outreach for Planned Parenthood, and Big Sister duties, I'm pretty busy.

Over the summer, I was working a table for Planned Parenthood at a county fair (a staple of summer life in Upstate New York). Tabling for Planned Parenthood can be iffy sometimes - though PP is really just a healthcare organization, their mere presence can stir controversy, because they lobby for women's reproductive rights (abortion, morning after pill, birth control) and are outwardly LBGT-friendly.

Sometimes, I think the people who schedule these events get a kick out of placing our table near the most right-wing group they can find, just to see what might happen. I know some of my counterparts have been in heated "discussions" with people at different events. I, personally, have been approached by church groups - but I can be good at ignoring people, and not adding fuel to the fire (sometimes).

But this day at the fair, the reception was actually quite positive. Most of the people who approached the table were very nice, polite, and interested. A few came to the table just to say they were happy to see us there.

One woman asked if I worked for PP. When I told her I was a volunteer, she thanked me. She said she used to work for a PP, and she knew how important volunteer help was in spreading the message. She said she had seen what some volunteers put up with, but she hoped we all remembered that if being there changed one person's mind, or put much-needed information into someone's hand, then in a way, just sitting there for a few hours could be life-changing.

I realized - she's right. You never know how your actions are impacting another. So if you take just a little time to inspire others to do good, or educate, or provide support (even if you don't realize it) - what seems like such a little thing to you could be HUGE to someone else.

That's a feeling that even this selfish, spoiled-brat wouldn't trade for all the stuff in the world.

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