Stop Trying To Be Mother Teresa! Are You The Complaining Volunteer?

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In this world of billions of people, it is normal that different personalities will overlap, and you’ll come across multiple people with similar behavioral patterns and just think:  “What’s wrong with you?”  Now on this site, we’ve discussed the different types of personalities can be extremely irritating to be around, and in one post we discussed “The Victim.”  Now, as we get older and mature we learn that those personality traits can have very close cousins, and I’ve had the unfortunate honor of meeting, “The Complaining Volunteer.”  So, because I care so much for you, readers, I’m going to give you a heads up on how to recognize this not so elusive creature, and what to do if you happen to find out that you are the person in question.

Traits?  Now initially spotting the complaining volunteer can be a little tricky at first.  They hide under a guise of “wanting to help.”  You need dishes washed:  “I’LL DO IT!”  You need someone to help you paint your house?  “I’LL DO IT!” Shoveling a pile of elephant turds (because I’m imagining that you work for the circus, don’t judge me)?  I’LL DO IT!  Need to file that mountain of paper work you have on your desk?  “Girl, don’t worry, I got you!  I don’t mind helping!  As a matter of fact, if there was gold medal of paper filing, I would be the Gabby Douglas of this ish.”  Now, you might appreciate the fact that the person volunteers, even though you NEVER asked for his/her help, but they continue to persist.  “Come on, it’s not that big of a deal.  I don’t mind.  I actually like doing [insert arduous task that no one in their right mind wants to do].

So finally, you relent thinking that you came across the ever elusive “helpful just because” person.  But where the two differ is that the C.V. wasn’t doing it out of the goodness of their heart.  Oh no, that would be too simple and nice, they did it to either gain sympathy from others, or use it as a way to exalt their generosity over others.  Or sometimes both.  Now, there’s a difference if you initially took on the task, and then felt overwhelmed as you started because you either underestimated how intense or time consuming it would be, or over estimating your ability to do it in the way you initially thought.  Those feelings of “oh my goodness…” are justified.  But the C.V. knew exactly how torturous this task was going to be and could hardly stop themselves from drooling by thinking about it.

An example?  One summer I worked as one of three administrative assistants, and one of my fellow desk jockeys would go around and do ANYTHING that she felt like needed to be done in other sectors.  Helping to clean the nurses station, helping the kitchen staff wash dishes and put them up, sweeping with the maids, anything.  Now, that would have been all good and fine if people were asking her, but most people felt uncomfortable with trying to take over their jobs, and on top of that almost every single night we’d hear her calling her boyfriend crying and complaining:  “Babe, I do everything by myself!  No one else does anything!”  So when the bosses got wind of her phone complaining they’d tell her, *Melissa, you don’t have to do that.  That’s not your job description.”  And what was her response?  “I don’t mind!  I love doing it!  As a matter of fact, I never told my boyfriend that at all.”  Even though the bosses overheard her with their own ears, but whatever.

So, with all of this said, if you are reading this and you have that sinking feeling in your stomach and you’re looking around to see if someone else is glaring at you with that slow nod in your direction meaning:  “Yep, that’s you.”  Here’s what you do:

STOP VOLUNTEERING IF YOU’RE GOING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IT!  If your motives of helping is a means of gaining sympathy from others or so you can see yourself as the modern day Mother Theresa, a martyr of help, then your view of volunteering is completely skewed.  Helping shouldn’t be used as a way to make yourself seem more exalted over others.  In fact, the whole act of volunteering is a selfless act, meaning, you shouldn’t be thinking about all the synonyms you’re going to use while complaining to someone else about something that you volunteered to do.  If you can’t separate that, and continue to give the person who you insisted to help a guilt trip, then just stop.

Kendra Koger is also imagining you hitting her up on her twitter @kkoger.

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