My Volunteer Story: Coming Alive
Brittany Jonap is currently volunteering as a pharmacist in Haiti. In this piece, her volunteer story, she explains what motivated her to leave the comfort and security of her full-time job and life to pursue a life less ordinary.
Awhile back I ran across this quote by Howard Thurman. I found it striking.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I pondered this for a long time. Years even. And then in June of 2015, I decided it was time to come alive. I walked into work that day, and I quit my job. My very comfortable, stress-free, well-paying job. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, it was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made. I knew that my friends and co-workers would think I had gone crazy. I thought my mentors and family would be disappointed. And I struggled with leading a life that was less than traditional. But my desire to leave was stronger than my desire to stay. And so I went.
I started in Morocco. I stood on the Great Wall of China and then went to Japan. I dabbled around Europe. I camped in Botswana and Zimbabwe. I went hiking in Patagonia. I explored Central America with some of the most wonderful strangers I have ever met. I stopped by Australia. I went to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. And then I stayed in Laos for 3 months and worked at a pediatric hospital. While there, I signed my contract to work with CMMB in Haiti. I had never felt more alive.
Laos Friends Hospital for Children
I had always envisioned myself volunteering abroad. I am an altruistic free spirit by nature; I’m an ENFP*. But getting there wasn’t easy. It took years of professional schooling, followed by post-graduate training, and then a real job to pay off loans while simultaneously bolstering the resume with additional coursework, leadership activities and attempting to learn a language on the side. Plus travelling the world. And after all of that was complete, I got to work for free!
But to me, volunteering has never been about working for free. Volunteering is about noticing all of your senses with more intensity. Volunteering is about feeling emotion with more depth. Volunteering is about genuinely appreciating the smile of a stranger. It is about realizing that this world is so much bigger than our personal lives. And it is about understanding how different it could be if we all learned to love a little more.
*Extraversion (E), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Perception (P) (Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to refer to one of sixteen personality types. The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in his book Psychological Types).
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