Posted by Brandon Alandt
I’m going to try something here. I’m going to write my first non-sports post. I’ve taken a hiatus from writing for this blog for a couple of reasons. I’ve been incredibly busy in life and I haven’t had a lot of time nor motivation to write.
Those of you who know me are aware that I spend my weekends at the restaurant I work at. Like most blue collar jobs, it’s a disguised revolving door where coworkers come and go almost daily. Lately I’ve been down on myself there; in a sort of funk I can’t seem to shake. Last year I saw a vast, vast majority of my friends whom I worked with leave. I no longer had a bunch of reasons to look forward to going into work for. I stopped enjoying being there and my work ethic suffered. I became selfish and began only working for myself and not my coworkers or guests. This is something I just realized. This is an ongoing problem for me, but the purpose of me writing this isn’t to complain about my boring restaurant job.
I consider myself a very lucky guy.
I got to spend my final three Spring Breaks in college volunteering in Jacksonville, Florida. During each one of those weeks the group I was with helped six or seven different organizations over five days.
Why is that information important?
I should preface all of this by saying that this is not going to be a “holier than thou” moment from me nor is it a call to action, I promise. I am not a preacher.
It’s important that you understand my background so you understand that I’ve been around enough people who work at those places every single day and keep those organizations afloat. I see how they operate on a normal day and how much joy they have for the work they do. Those people live to help others. I can sense the completeness within them. As a guy who’s about to graduate from college in fewer than two months with no clue what the next step is, that makes me a little jealous.
It’s refreshing to interact with people who have a deep passion for what they do. It gives you an added boost of energy when you see an enthusiastic collection of people who dedicate their lives and talents to helping people at food banks, shelters, or soup kitchens. Take it from me, it’s exhausting work, and I was only spending a few days at a time doing it.
I don’t think I could do what those people do.
I realized this year that while I enjoy helping people, I don’t love it the same way most of the people I’ve encountered do. All of this considered, it should have only been a onetime thing, not something I eagerly anticipated every year. Here’s why it went down the way it did. Here’s perhaps the cheesiest, most cliché words that I will ever write:
Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing in determining your overall quality of life is the people who accompany you on your journey.
I said I didn’t necessarily love the work I was doing, which is true, but I love the people I’ve had the opportunity to share all of those moments with. The work we did was worthwhile, but it was the people I was with who made those weeks some of the most amazing I’ve ever had.
So when the credits finished rolling on the last episode of my volunteering trilogy, I was left with small scratches from head to toe from the jobs I did, but in addition to that I’m also left with a sort of emptiness. Even though I was doing grunt work all week without pay, I wish it could have lasted forever. It’s like if you were on a rollercoaster that took you all the way up to the top and you were anticipating a big, exciting, gradual drop and then the ride suddenly ends. Get off, it’s over.
I feel empty because I’m not sure if the people I’ll work with in the future will ever be able to compare to the ones I got to spend those three spring breaks in college with. I’m thankful for the opportunities, but I’m still greedy.
The point I’m getting at here is that I think a lot of times we take the people we actually enjoy working with for granted. At least I do. I think without them we’re essentially acting as flawed machines. We become emotionless while performing the same tasks over and over again, except we aren’t programmed. I think we underestimate how crucial they are to our overall happiness and how crucial we are to theirs.