[Recently, the volunteer staffs of Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ were given survey questions to answer. These were given, I believe, to aid the organizing committee in forming the programs and such. But the questions were so good and reflection-inducing, and my answers got long… long enough for a blog post.]
My staff supervisor once asked me, “Did you ever get the feeling na volunteer ka LANG?” (Did you ever get the feeling that you are JUST a volunteer?)
And I remember answering, “No. Never.”
Of course, what ate Crista, my supervisor, was really asking was: Did I, in any way, feel inferior in the team? Did I, at any time, feel that my ideas and contribution were never valued? Did I ever feel out of place in the team?
I said, “Never.”
In a way it’s true.
I am blessed with a Team Leader who is fun and cool in a way that I can only say promotes team “spirit”, and values everyone’s ideas. I have teammates who are very supportive and encouraging. I have learned a lot and enjoyed most of my time working with these amazing people.
Yep, it is true.
But not entirely.
When I was first initiated to the Staff Team, I decided to bide my time in learning the ropes, so to speak, of “volunteer-ing”.
Over time, I struggled with my role in the team and what I should do. Every meeting we had and every time I spoke, I held myself in check, wondering if what I was saying made any sense, and if these people really wanted to hear what I had to say. Oh yes, I had insecurity issues. So I clamped up. I decided to speak only when spoken to, and do what they wanted me to do.
My supervisor confronted me about it one day, insisting that they do value my ideas and to speak up.
Which of course, was relieving in so many ways.
Not Entirely Belonging
I am a volunteer staff. I work with an amazing team, but I am not full time. This arrangement automatically puts me in the lowest rung in the team. And however way I wished it was another way, I never really fully belonged.
And it’s OKAY.
It is simply a natural occurrence brought about by the circumstances and yes, age and generational gap. Such factors, however nobly we try to transcend them, always create blocks and hindrances.
My Team Leader insists that I share my ideas to the team, and I appreciate that. Personally, I think I’ve come a long way from that rather timid volunteer feeling her way through the team. Still, there are conventions and power-distance relationships that hinder me from being more straightforward than I want to be.
It doesn’t mean we don’t try. Oh, we do. In fact, as a result of trying, I have gained much from the wisdom of and relationship with my older teammates. And most of the time, the gaps actually seem non-existent.
But there will always be something.
Something overlooked, some generational thing perhaps, or whatever.
And I think it’s okay.
We try to bridge such gaps, but these gaps are proof of our differences. And you know, “differences” is just another word for “uniqueness”.
But it’s more than just a celebration of our God-orchestrated uniqueness. It’s a matter of calling and of identity.
I am just a volunteer, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m proud of it.