Monday, February 27, 2023

Stepping Down

To be clear, since I do love a dramatic title, I am not setpoint down from blogging. 
Okay. Looking at the news, we've seen some politicians, officials, internationally and even a few here in the US announce that they were stepping down. Those of us who have not ever pursued politics also may find opportunities - in jobs or volunteer roles where it is time to stop. 
One of the things that can be hard, especially with volunteer roles is that knowing that sometimes if you step down that role will not be filled. And sometimes that's true. But also, sometimes that's okay. 
One of the volunteer roles I took had a four year max built into when I started that was removed right as I hit my fourth year and they reassessed their needs (and quite honestly discovered they had too many people hitting that four year max at once). I agreed to stay because some people had to step down, but then there was another reason, and another. And there can be a really useful thing in having a volunteer who has been there longer than some of the paid staff, can provide some continuity and some historical data. But there are also situations where being the person who says, we tried that, it didn't work. Or we did that six year ago, it was fun. Well, eventually that isn't helpful to folks brainstorming. And sometimes it can stifle more than it helps. And also, sometimes the mental, emotional, physical, and financial contributions you have been making start to add up and feel like they are getting bigger than the excitement and energy you are getting back.
And sometimes, especially if it's paid, especially if your healthcare, or other necessities are tied to that, you don't have the option to stop. You just dig in and keep going. 
But stepping down from say volunteer trash pick up at the park doesn't mean you don't care any more. It just might mean you are going to take some, or maybe all of the Saturday mornings back for yourself. 
Because here's the thing, if you stop doing a thing one of a few things will happen. Someone else will step in and do it, maybe not the way that you did. They might pick Tuesdays. 
No one will step in. Which will either be fine or it won't. 
Sometimes things end. Sometimes they get reinvented or reframed or reassigned. And sometimes they don't.
Volunteers are hugely important to a lot of things. And also, a lot of organizations have all read the same study that shows that organization members given a role that makes them feel part of the whole, tend to be more committed, contribute more, and stay longer. 
That doesn't make volunteering evil. It just means that sometimes that tug, that sense of importance is intentional. 
People staying can be incredibly important to an organization. New people coming in and changing things can also be incredibly helpful. 
One of the things I talked about when I worked with the youth group, was that having adults who had worked with the youth group in other roles was hugely important to the youth group. 
The youth group was going to be well served by having volunteers who left. Who were on other committees and could provide useful context any time someone suggested something should or should not be done by the youth group. 
But also, particularly in our never stop, always go culture, stopping just because it's been a while, because you would like someone else to do it, can seem counterintuitive. Once you've attained a role, you are - they say - only supposed to give it up for something better.
But that's silly. 
You probably shouldn't quit giving someone CPR until someone else can take over, but beyond that, most things can end. (Also, not to be morbid, but even CPR ends.) If that thing you loved doing, stops because you don't do it anymore, that will be sad. But it also doesn't erase the work you did. Great things happened. That park was clean. And if it's less clean for a while, that's probably okay.