One of the things on my 35 Things To Do list was “Do something for someone else.” For some reason, it’s taken me a whole year to admit that I can check off this list item. Why? Well, I guess I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to help someone out. And I figured I’d know it when it happened. But it never really did. Although, on the other hand, maybe I was just being too hard on myself. I mean, I do things for other people all the time, right? Somehow I just kept thinking that whatever things I do on a regular basis weren’t good enough.
For example, I watch my friend’s son after school twice a week. But she drives my kids to school every day, so it’s not an unreturned favor. And when my friends ask me to watch their kids at times that they just need a favor, or to drive their child somewhere that I’m going anyway, it doesn’t count because they would do (and have done) the same for me. What about the time when my friend needed to talk and I listened and was there for her? Doesn’t count because it’s obviously something I would do for her. And again, she would do the same for me.
So I was thinking maybe I need to do something that I wouldn’t normally do. But I’m not the type of person who is willing to offer up my house as a place to stay, or who wants to invite strangers over for meals because they are visiting the community. OK, so no big deeds for strangers. How about small RAKs? I took Amber’s idea of sending coffee to a troop member through Green Beans Coffee – I sent a thank you note and a cup of coffee to a service member. I received an email telling me that my cup was delivered to a Service Member serving at Bagram Main (south) in Afghanistan. I also got a brief thank you note: “Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity.” Once again, I found myself trying to decide if this counted as doing something for someone else. I mean, it took me all of one minute! (I also left some extra coupons next to a game at Target – but when I was back in the store a few days later they were still there, so that can’t count!)
HOWEVER, I have decided to tell myself “It’s Okay.” No matter how much I want to punish myself into thinking I’m not a good friend and that even when I do things for others they don’t count because they would do the same for me, I’ve decided to look at it another way. My friends ask me for favors because they know they can count on me. And I do things for them because I know we do things for each other. Isn’t that what being friends is all about? As for the random acts for strangers, it’s okay that I’m not the kind of person who opens her house constantly for people. It’s just not my personality. Luckily there are amazing families in our community who are able to provide when needed, and I need to allow myself not to feel guilty about it. It’s okay for me to do things for my friends. And to do small RAKs as I feel like doing so. At the same time, I want to make this one of my goals for the coming year. I want to be a better friend and be there for my friends even more than I am now. I want to make sure that the people I am close to know that it’s okay to ask me for help. Of course, it’s also okay if I cannot help or if I ask for help and my friends are not available. And it’s okay for me to mark #33 on my list as done.