Selfless Dreamed 4637 days ago | | 1060 words

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to help people. I’ve had an overwhelmingly altruistic soul. I want to help people. To make their lives better.

When I was little, I wanted nothing more than to be a zoo keeper. To work with animals to make them healthy when they were sick and to care for them.

I wanted to work with National Geographic as a photographer to bring to light the plight of people everywhere who needed someone to speak for them, to lead them to a better life, to show the world the suffering those without voices are going through.

I want to be a voice for people. I want to help them. All of them. And it kills me.

I put other people in front of myself all the time. I give and give and give selflessly until I can give no more. Then I keep giving just a little bit more.

I just want to help everyone. To protect everyone. To keep everyone I know and care about safe. In every way.

I want to change the world for the better. One person and one act at a time.

But how?

I thought I could do it through design and communication. I want to work somewhere that could help people get their stories out. To help them scream at the top of their lungs. To make clear problems ignored by most of us everyday.

Where we turn away and keep swiftly walking down the busy streets of life. Leaving the weeping victims laying in the street. Broken and hurt.

I speak mostly in metaphor. But my feelings have been the same since as long as I can remember.

When I was a teen back in Berryville I was always the one who could lend an ear or a shoulder to whoever needed it.

I spent many nights talking with friends until the wee hours of the morning online and off to help them and try my best to set things right.

When I was in college I spent a year volunteering for an organization who helped teens through emails and a chatroom. Teen Advice Online is where I “worked” answering 40-50 emails per week. And spending 4-5 hours in the chat room a day talking publicly and privately with teens who needed help or had questions.

Everything from rape to puberty to abuse and worse… Anything you’ve ever had a question about, I saw when I was there. Doing my best to help them.

I was selected at Counselor of the Month back in January 2001. My thoughts then are the same as they are now. I was only there for a year and I met a lot of amazing people. People who are so strong. People who were hurting so much that felt better from talking to us. People who just needed an ear. Period.

One thing I learned when I was there is that people who seek to help others are also in need of some kind of help themselves. This is where I also got the nickname of “The Insomniac” for my late night spent in the chatroom and my tireless devotion to the site and the people there.

I still talk with one of them. Every so often I hear from her. And how her life has improved in these past 5 years.

It’s good to hear from her. To see I’ve made a real difference in someone’s life.

There was also the night I talked to a girl who had been raped by her boyfriend. Talked to her for 10 straight hours in a private chatroom. Eventually convinced her to go to the police and get help. I kept a log of the chat and it was sent a long to the local authorities by the site’s owner, an amazingly compassionate woman.

I never did hear if anything ever came of it. But I thought about her often.. and hoped she found someone to help her in person.

And a girl I think about all the time was a VCU student, who I talked out of suicide very late one night.

I was in the chatroom. It was just me and a few other regulars. Then someone came in and I could see by her IP address she was on VCU’s network.

I took immediate interest. I quickly found out she was a girl and living in Gladding. From there I talked to her most of the night. Even asking if she would meet me at the building’s entrance so I could talk to her and hold her and keep her safe for the night.

I never was able to convince her to let me in. I walked over and waited for an hour but she never showed… or at least never said who she was. I described myself to her and what I was wearing, and waited… many girls passed me going in and out and I kept thinking what if one of these is her…

I never did find out what happened to her. I had no way to identify her to VCU or I would have told the people at Gladding about it. And asked them for help.

She told me she was going to leave school and rethink her life. I never did find out what happened to her. All I can hope is she really did find help.

I think about these girls sometimes. Especially when I’m online late at night…

Never knowing what happened to them… did I make a difference? Did I accomplish anything?

I can only hope so.

My point in all this is I love helping people. I need to do something with my life that allows me to do that.

Maybe I should pursue being a counselor at a local YMCA. Maybe I should contact VCU about volunteering in their counseling office. Can you do that without a degree?

Another thing I learned when I was at Teen Advice Online was that people are far more apt to talk to other teens and young people than they are to open up to a psychologist or adult.

They feel comfortable talking to someone they perceive as a peer and a friend. Just another kid trying to figure it all out.

I would love to be able to talk to people and help them out everyday. And somehow make a living at that…

I don’t know what I want to do with my life.
I just know I want to help people.

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