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INTJ's and Volunteering
Old 05-22-2011, 02:13 PM   #1
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INTJ's and Volunteering

This is a continuation of the earlier thread about being anti-social.

I've tried volunteering for different things and I've discovered that I begin to feel a deep seated anxiety about having another mandatory thing in my life. I start out with altruistic intents, but....

For example, I volunteered to clean cat cages for a local cat rescue organization. They assigned me a shift every Monday evening. At first, it was ok, but after a few months I dreaded Monday evenings. It wasn't because I didn't enjoy the cats, it was because I HAD to be there. I started almost resenting the incursion on my time. Eventually I quit and just started fostering cats at home (talk about incursions on my time!), but at least I don't feel that I have to report to anyone.

I suspect I would do much better if I could do one-off volunteering whenever the mood strikes me, although I recognize that that is more than a little selfish and is somewhat useless in terms of helping.

In a lot of threads, people suggest volunteering as an option for social contact. But, given that we INTJ's don't do well in social settings, isn't volunteering just setting us up for anxiety?
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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I thought I would volunteer a lot in retirement, but so far I haven't really engaged in any traditional volunteering activities. I volunteer to help out with the forum - - does that count?

I have found that retirement is a lot more busy than I had expected. I have plenty to do. I don't really feel a need for social contact other than with my dear friend F. He and I eat lunch together every day, go to the gym together, and spend afternoons together. Other than that, I also need my "alone time". I really don't have time to volunteer at a hospital or soup kitchen, though before I retired I thought I would be doing this sort of thing. I really admire and respect those who volunteer in these ways.
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:31 PM   #3
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I thought I would volunteer a lot in retirement, but...
...when I did I found it was just like working, but without the paycheck.
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:37 PM   #4
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...when I did I found it was just like working, but without the paycheck.
EWWWW! OK, then putting that off was the right decision...
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
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Actually, I've found that "one-off" volunteering is OK, but a regular gig isn't my thing.

For example, we have an annual fund-raiser for our volunteer fire dept, and I usually help by working a few hours with that. I also help with a semi-annual clean up of our rural subdivision roadways, and maintain the website for our HOA. Note that none of those require me to punch a clock or be somewhere at a certain time each week (or day). I tried a couple of those volunteer jobs and, as stated above, found it to be nothing more than unpaid work, with all the associated 'benefits'.
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Old 05-22-2011, 03:39 PM   #6
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I think I have found the ideal volunteer opportunity for an INTJ.

I empty the garbage cans and do light clean up at three very rural cemeteries. I go on weekdays and very rarely encounter a living person. The cemetery association hires someone to mow the grass. The deceased person's family is supposed to clean up the flower arrangements after a funeral. Once in a while I will clean up after a funeral if the deceased person has no family in the area.

This is a natural for me because when I was a kid I lived across the street from a very large suburban cemetery (a couple hundred acres) and spent many happy hours playing there.
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:13 PM   #7
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it was because I HAD to be there.
That's why, you had to be there. That infringes upon our freedom from work (schedules) and puts stress on us. I would not want to do anything now that requires that I do X on day Y. I need to be free to do what I want when I want. That was the exact reason I retired.

The work at the rural cemetery sounds like something I would love to do! I like to walk thru cemeteries but especially old grave yards with tilting stones, old trees, unmowed grass, a place no one has been buried in for 150 or 200 years. I've always been attracted to old graveyards. If you are too I recommend a book from the 1960's called "Graven Images".
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:28 PM   #8
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Nuiloa..............I was going to say that you had a problem because you were still in your "honeymoon" period of retirement w/ lots of things to do but I went back and checked your other post to check the data, and realized you aren't even retired yet................so same theory, to much else to do and so" resent the having to be there at a certain time" syndrome. Perhaps , after you've really retired, and had a year or so to get rid of your fantasized wild desires, perhaps volunteering won't seem so onerous anymore.
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:43 PM   #9
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There is an organization in my area called Hands On Greater Portland which provides volunteer opportunities on a one time basis. Projects range from a few hours to a full day. Volunteers can sign up for as much or as little as they want. Maybe there is something similar in your area.

I found a group that knits and crochets items for babies. It meets only once a month and is a good fit for me. The items we make are split between a local hospital and a local medical clinic. I enjoy the few hours the group spends together and the chit chat among the women. It is a supportive environment and there is always someone available to help with a project if wanted. If this were weekly, I would find it too confining. This works for me and I may try some of the other Hands On projects sometime.

The other volunteer activity I plan to do will involve building computers, but it will be an ongoing weekly committment and include training. Maybe I will start on that later this year. I think I will really enjoy getting involved in it.
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:47 PM   #10
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INTJ here who volunteers a lot - and like you, in cat rescue. Not unusual for us introverts to be attracted to cats, huh? Those little critters seem to suit those who are more private. I love dogs, but, in general, they tend to appeal more to socially outgoing types.

I agree with you Nuiola - the "have to be there" is a problem. I've structured my efforts to suit my situation and personality. Even so, I make some sacrifices for the cause. The upside is they can't fire me or cut my raise for not showing up and I have something in my life that has meaning. It’s important to me to make some kind of difference – even if it’s a small thing like helping a kitten get over an illness and become more trusting and adoptable.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:11 PM   #11
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Funny, after only four weeks, this one rings true. I always told people that I wanted to do volunteer work in retirement, but I'm not ready for that yet. I do a lot of charity knitting - somewhere between Powerplay & Purron - I make little blankies for the kitties in the shelter. In about 1.5 years, I've made more than 80 of them. I also knit blankets for Project Linus; they give them to kids in the hospital. Knitting is something I can do whenever I want, though there is a knitting group in my neighborhood. Sometimes I go, and sometimes I'd just rather stay home. I'm an ISTJ, does that work?
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:33 PM   #12
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...when I did I found it was just like working, but without the paycheck.
I feel the same way. When a charity requests my help, I usually reach for my pocket book instead of reaching for my calendar.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:00 PM   #13
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I make little blankies for the kitties in the shelter. In about 1.5 years, I've made more than 80 of them. I also knit blankets for Project Linus; they give them to kids in the hospital. Knitting is something I can do whenever I want, though there is a knitting group in my neighborhood. Sometimes I go, and sometimes I'd just rather stay home. I'm an ISTJ, does that work?
Works for me Using your talents to help. This is a very good thing indeed - thanks!
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:38 PM   #14
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I am an INTJ who does some volunteer work in ER. My two areas of volunteer work are related directly to existing hobbies I have, so just adding a variation to something I already like doing makes it pretty easy and fun.

The days and times of these activities are midday, so I don't have to alter my daily schedule much if at all (and I avoid rush-hour traffic). Most of the time, my sessions or visits do not last very long. Also, I was doing these things in my 7 years of semi-retirement, so there is no real transition into volunteer work from my ER in late 2008. All that happened was that it became a lot easier to schedule because of pretty much no more schedule conflicts.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:05 AM   #15
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Some volunteering was one of the things I had "sort of" intended to do after retiring but the turn-off was having to commit to a schedule. And having been deeply involved in volunteering in the past my experience was that it can be a morass of spinning wheels.

As one guy put it in one organization "ten per cent of the members do ninety per cent of the work". That got old.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:31 AM   #16
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I think the key is to be able to say No when it gets to be too much, and to pick things you want to do and not get stuck with things you don't. I don't like to do something poorly or incomplete, so when I volunteer for something I usually do a good job of it. In turn it follows that I'll be asked to do more, because I'm reliable. At some point I can tell it's going to be too much, or it's something I don't want to do, like if they need someone to call others. I just say I've got too much on my plate and don't want to over commit, or I'm also doing stuff for another group, or use some other excuse like that.

I actually enjoy a certain amount of the social interaction with the volunteering I do.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:56 AM   #17
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My volunteering is doing the books for a dog rescue group (and of course like W2R, I volunteer here as a mod). It provides me with the feeling that I'm doing some good for a cause I support but is a bit on the permanent side for my tastes. Had I the chance to do it over, I would not be so involved in the social aspects of the rescue group and just limit my actions to the occasional foster and handling the checkbook/tax filings.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:19 AM   #18
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The work at the rural cemetery sounds like something I would love to do! I like to walk thru cemeteries but especially old grave yards with tilting stones, old trees, unmowed grass, a place no one has been buried in for 150 or 200 years. I've always been attracted to old graveyards.
They are to die for.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:35 AM   #19
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Lena volunteers at a local hospital, and says she really enjoys it. I just don't get it. Also, since the hospital is not a non-profit operation, the main "difference" she is making is an improved bottom line for the shareholders.

Somewhat off track: One of her fellow volunteers had to be hospitalized briefly, and when she got the bill, it itemized $40 for a bandaid, she said "F&^% this, I'm volunteering weekly for years, and I have to pay $40 for a bandaid?"
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:03 AM   #20
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Thinking out of the box...
I have a simple solution to not being tied down to a particular date/time when volunteering. Sign up as an alternate, and make it clear you do not want to be in charge of anything. The "in-charge" people like this because they do not get stuck doing double duty, i.e. planning and participating.
Sometimes I offer to go fetch items needed for the event, which can usually be done in advance and on my time schedule.
What I usually do is just show up when I see there is a fundraiser event at the Legions. I have not specifically committed to be there, but an extra pair of hands is never turned away. I generally relieve a regular volunteer to give them a chance to rest or take a bathroom break, and/or jump right in and assist with a task that is being done solo and really needs 2 to accomplish.
Or I will sell raffle or 50/50 tickets, an assignment I am very good at.

Lots of possibilities...
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