Now that Carly is growing into independence and on her way to, as she says, “finding a paying job in 2015,” the concentration of our influence on her has faded. Certainly, we all still learn from each other, but, for her, not at the same rate and level as when she was a child and reliant on us. In 2015, Carly will move into her own place, settle in, look around at adult life, and continue to confront questions that direct her to our guidance, but for the most part, she has the tools necessary to captain her own ship.
I trust that over Carly’s lifetime I have impacted her as well as some of her friends and classmates by being a mentor, confidant, and positive example. This role came naturally for me, because kids were in our home throughout Carly’s childhood, and I enjoy being a strong female presence and involved adult. I know I was able to exemplify authenticity, kindness, intentionality, self-respect, and a continual and critical questioning of what constitutes success.
In the next stage of my life, as a mother of a grown adult, my circle of influence will be dependent on where I choose to spend my extra time. Recently, I have been thinking about where this might be. I could mentor at Pioneer Human Services, where I currently work in Business Development for our Commercial and Airplane parts division, or I could find a parenting support program to become involved with, or, more informally, I could reach out to families and young people in my neighborhood when they need support.
As I embark on this process of picking which community of people I want to contribute to next, I will start by asking myself some practical questions: What amount of time can I commit to per week/month/year? How well do different organizations align with what I find to be important? What service can I best offer? I will also be mindful of my working style. I like to be given a task and work independently to complete it.
When I volunteer, I always find that I get back more than I give. While I may influence others, I am equally influenced by and learn from them. This is the essence of community, the collaborative spirit of mutual support and growth. Whatever I choose, I will make sure that the relationships I form are intentional, honest, and rewarding for me as well as the people and communities I connect with.
How will you impact others in 2015? Do you volunteer now? Is it time to refresh your volunteer opportunities? Where can you leave some of your wisdom?