Staying selfless while serving others

Danielle Waddell

The most common thing that I hear concerning college is that this is the best time of my life, the point during which I will make my own choices that will shape how I will live for the rest of my life. I don’t disagree. College has already proven to be the best span of life I’ve lived thus far and has definitely included some major decisions on my part, but I do think we put far too much focus on ourselves during this time of change and adventure, leaving others by the wayside. 

We seem to have forgotten what it means to serve selflessly.

Many of us are involved in extracurriculars, whether it be with the CSSV, Al’s Pals, SGA or anything else with a mission of service. But what are our motives for these programs? Do we truly desire to serve those struggling in our community? Or are we more focused on building our resumes to score that dream job after graduation?

My own observations have proven the latter to be more common, and I include myself among the guilty. All too often, I find myself volunteering for something that will either strengthen my resume, give me helpful experience or just make me feel better about myself. Oh, and of course, I’ll be helping those in need, too, so that’s a plus.

We have turned volunteering and community service into some sort of beneficial chore. We’d rather be doing a million other things, but we think, “If I want that job after I graduate, I’m going to have to suffer through it.”

Serving isn’t supposed to be performed with this kind of mindset. Rather than begrudgingly volunteering to improve our future hiring stats, we should be able to serve with a grateful, joyful heart, thankful for all that we have been blessed with and giving back to those who’ve been less fortunate. We should see service as an opportunity to bless those around us, accepting whatever benefits we may receive as the plus instead of the main goal.

As college students, specifically at The University of Alabama, we have much more power than we or anyone else gives us credit for. We have the advantages of time – believe it or not, we have more time now than we ever will again – connections through various campus service organizations and volunteer programs, and we are placed in an area with an abundance of need. We should rise to the occasion and take advantage of these resources with the purpose to help and love people.

Our time here at the University should definitely be used as a way to improve ourselves and earn an education that will empower us, but we should also remember there are other people who haven’t received the same opportunities and resources we have. Instead of focusing only on building up for a prosperous future, let’s educate ourselves and take advantage of our resources to create a positive change for people who don’t have the same opportunities that we do.

I extend a challenge to each of us, including myself, to serve in the most selfless way we can, with the lone intention of helping someone out and expecting nothing in return. Let’s redefine what it means to serve and volunteer; let’s restore each of their intended purposes. Serve with a grateful, selfless heart and share the numerous blessings you have received.

Danielle Waddell is sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column runs weekly.