I moved to Waco in August of 2010. It took a few months to get settled, but I knew that when I did, I would need to embrace my community like my community embraced me.
In college I always made the excuse that I didn’t have the time or energy to give back. I was a design student. No one understood how hard I worked and exhausted I was (this is what I told myself). I managed to make time for parties and dates but not so much for service.
Investing in the not-me-world seemed more distant than Narnia, but less distant than impossible. The only way I knew it was possible was because other people already found the balance. How did they have time to make care packages for troops overseas? How did these people with kids and jobs and strange cooking behaviors have time to serve breakfast to their brothers at the soup kitchen? They obviously had a lot of time on their hands.
Waco is chock full of selfless people and wonderful organizations: Jesus Said Love, Mission Waco, Waco Arts Initiative, etc. I didn’t know where to start. I already felt overwhelmed with my own life in transition. I wanted to pick the perfect cause; something that wouldn’t allow me to fail. Perfectionism crippled me from moving in any direction. Eventually I realized that if I didn’t have time to give back, then no one had the time. I was single and fresh out of college. If I waited to find the perfect gig, I would never start.
It has been a little over a year since Madison and I have been matched with Big Brothers Big Sister. She is a bright 11-year-old who loves animals, running and Justin Bieber. I love crafts, lounging and talk radio. We work well together. When I hang out with Madison, I get to play. We go to the zoo and eat ice cream. I get paint and cookie dough on my shirt when she gets paint and cookie dough on her shirt (I fail as adult). We hang out for a couple of hours every weekend that I’m in town. Only four hours are required each month, but it is easy to make time. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing. I get lazy and selfish. I am surprised by how little I know about fourth grade. I was just there fourteen years ago.
When my friend Cory takes time to hear my woes on our periodic phone dates, it means the world to me. She continually pours into me and invests like I’m the only person who matters. If Cory’s time means this much to me at age 24, I can’t imagine what that is like for an impressionable child.
The hardest part about Big Brothers Big Sisters was starting. Not every organization is right for everybody at every time. I encourage everyone to do something. Just say yes and figure it out later. 2011 went by faster than cookies in the work break room. It could have come and gone without looking much different.
Don’t let indecisiveness cripple you into doing nothing. My friendship with Madison is so rich, but I wouldn’t have known what I was missing out on if I never dove in.