One of the most challenging things for me has been getting past my fears of making a commitment to anyone about anything! I am by nature a person who has always liked to be involved, but my concerns about my Cancer preventing me from fulfilling a commitment, have gotten in the way. I live in fear of signing up for something, and then letting people down. So I’ve been stuck in this place of not participating in things I normally would.
One thing that has helped me to fill this void, and deal with my fears, is to volunteer with two Cancer groups, Ovarian Cancer 101, and Dancing For A Cure. Both groups have generously allowed me to help in ways that let me volunteer in my own time, contributing my efforts while managing any symptoms I might be dealing with. Ovarian Cancer 101 graciously accepts my blogs whenever I can write them – no schedule, no pressure. And Dancing For A Cure gives me work I can do at my own pace, be it writing tasks, or fundraising I can do as I feel able. These were my two outlets for getting involved, and have been invaluable experiences for me.
But lately, I have been toying with the idea of doing more, of taking the risk to commit, and of accepting my health limitations as part of my life to be accepted, but not allow them to block me from doing things I might like to engage in. So I started to think of activities I might want to take part in, and when that “You can’t commit to anything” voice in my head started chiming in, I would corral it, move past it, and start to venture out into the world of possibilities that awaited me.
At the same time I was struggling with these feelings, I bumped into two teaching colleagues, who said they would love to have me volunteer in their kindergarten classes. I instantly thought “No, I can’t do that – I might have to cancel if I am not feeling well.” I stayed with those feelings for awhile, not wanting to take any risks of not being able to fulfill my volunteering. Finally, I pushed myself to fill out the volunteer form, and start the process.
My approval came in a few weeks later, and I was ready to begin my volunteering on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I knew I was going to enjoy it, but did not realize the profound effect it would have on me. Not only was I getting involved with something I love to do, but I suddenly found myself a part of two class families that brought me totally out of myself, sharing something with me that boosted my spirits, and overcame my chronic worries about getting sick and not being able to live up to my commitment. I had a purpose bigger than myself.
My fears began to subside. I could take each day as it came, and trust that it was ok to take something on that involved a regular schedule. I also began to realize that if I was sick, and could not volunteer, it would be ok. Both teachers who I work with know my situation, and are most supportive. They have made me feel very comfortable, and are totally accepting of anything I need to do or not do.
So if you are thinking of getting involved in a passion of yours, take the risk and do it. You will feel a tremendous sense of empowerment, of being a part of something special, and will be taken outside of your own preoccupation with your illness. I am still working on getting past my fears of letting people down, but know that I am on the right track. Even if your fears are realized, and you don’t feel well enough to participate in what you have signed up for, (as happened to me with this year’s Dancing For A Cure Dance Marathon event), know that the world won’t end! It will be OK. People understand, and will support you. Being up front from the beginning makes all the difference. So get out there and join in – you won’t regret it!
‘Til Next Time,