The Taxing Cycle of Giving Back: Why I’m Taking A Break

The importance of giving back is bigger than helping out your fellow human. It’s a form of selflessness especially when the effort put forth is done without any expectations in return.

Participating in a walk, run or cycling tour to raise money for a cause. Serving food at a local soup kitchen. Reading to the elderly or cuddling with newborn babies in the NICU.

Imagine if every person you have seen give up their seat on a crowded train to a disabled person did those acts with the guarantee of getting something they wished for. The world would be a little bit kinder, don’t you think?

Growing up I would get exhausted seeing my aunt, Sislyn Pitter, running around to do things for people at the several churches she belonged to, take our elderly relatives wherever she wanted, participate in various activities and travel to Barbados on a whim. Coupled with her being my Girl Scout leader, it amazed me how she did so much on a daily basis.

As her last days on Earth were nearing three years ago this month, I realized, then, the return on her investment. My aunt built a community, an extended family, for herself.

As she was losing her battle with cancer, I struggled to bring myself to go to see her in the hospital because I knew I wouldn’t get a moment alone with her.

The day I did get the courage to see her, she was alone and for those five minutes, she was able to smile at me and say, “I’m okay” before a group of church folks rushed in with flowers and hymnals to sing.

The following day she was gone.

2015 was the prequel to my life story, thus far, as adulting rushed in like a tidal wave. I buried my heartache into my career and kicked any moment of personal relaxation into time for others.

Fundraising for and walking in the March of Dimes, Breast Cancer Awareness March, Lupus Walk, and Alzheimer’s Disease Walk are fulfilling causes to participate in.

Volunteering in every fall with the New York Association of Black Journalists FIRST TAKE program, where I mentor high school students about the art of journalism, gives me a joy. This program also introduced me to dozens of future professionals and their parents from all walks of life.

Taking time to collect gently used and new designer gowns and accessories for Princess Chambers Inc. prom dress giveaway every May gives me pride. Knowing over 100 young ladies will feel beautiful, possibly, for the first time in their life because of the willful efforts of this organization’s is amazing.

All of this, along with helping family and friends with their needs were done unapologetically.

I’ve learned the importance of giving back my entire adult life thanks to my beloved aunt and I see how it wore her out until she took her last breath.

Maybe it was her compulsive personality that I inherited, that caused a struggle with my health, go through a divorce and deal with other life-altering events.

And guess what? At my lowest moments, the community I built came through for me when I needed emotional, physical and mental support.

Nevertheless, I’m realizing now my dedication to caring about others went too far and I need to scale back.

Come this winter, it’ll finally be time for me to take care of myself and actually sleep in on a Saturday again.

Dedicated to Aunt Sissy and Michael J. Feeney who taught me the importance of “Each One, Teach One.” Rest in peace. Main photograph courtesy of unsplash.com.

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