The casual, reluctant volunteer

I’m a casual volunteer, and I’m finally becoming okay with that.

It’s hard to admit because I have a tendency to want to HELP ALL THE THINGS, but my desire to help often slams into my honest preferences on how I’d rather spend my energy. I’ve volunteered too much in the past with Toastmasters and community theatre, and over time, I’ve pinpointed the exact feeling in my throat and my gut when I start to get resentful. When that happens, it’s time to back off.

With the 2020 election season already in full swing, it’s even more imperative that I respect my limits and not give in to the impulse to overcommit. I went to a campaign volunteer training a few days ago and my brain came up with all kinds of ideas, like hosting events or having a house party. Then I remembered how much I hate organizing events. I also don’t like having to be at a certain place at a certain time, which is why I rarely attend other people’s events. I also don’t like having people over at my home. Introverts, I suspect you’re nodding along.

Here’s the kicker: political volunteering is not something I particularly want to do. I do it because I’m afraid not to. Postcards to Voters is my main activity because I can write them any time, and as many or as few as I want.

I also recently joined the Open Progress Text Troop, and I have the Reach app on my phone to record voter data if someone else brings up politics in a conversation (it certainly won’t be me).

I’m sure some volunteers would scoff at how little I do, but they have to remember that 97% of Democratic voters don’t volunteer on campaigns at all. I don’t follow the news (guess what, I still find out about the big stuff) and I tune out political chit-chat. Many, many people are like me and yet still want to help. I’m glad technology has made it possible for introverted, casual volunteers like me to contribute. Lowering the barrier to activism means many more people can get involved, and isn’t that what we want in a democracy?