With Google searches that answer our questions before we finish asking them and iThings that know us better than we know ourselves, it is hard for us Millennials to take a step back and observe the world around us. We forget that there is an entire universe outside of our tiny screens, and we sometimes, admittedly, forget to serve. Other generations call us selfish and lazy, but I choose to think we just get preoccupied.
Our generation's perceived apathy and materialism are reasons enough, I think, to consciously decide to serve on a regular basis -- through volunteerism, donations, and service projects. Giving is important because it not only helps others, but it forces us to check our first-world privilege. When we take our attention away from ourselves even for just a little while, we realize that we are not, in fact, the center of the universe, despite all of our Instagram fame and Siri's doting attention to our every move.
My freshman year, during my school's annual Service Day, I was admittedly reluctant to volunteer. It was rainy and chilly, and the thought of being outdoors all day had me longing to be inside somewhere, even if that meant going to class. I showed up to my assigned location, though, and discovered that I would be helping put the final touches on a house for Habitat for Humanity. My group and I raked the ground, planted grass seed, and helped paint the walls of the house along with other members of the community. Though the work was tough, we got to reap the benefits of helping when we met the homeowners. The family members not only helped with their own home, but they have continued to assist with every other Habitat for Humanity house in town since theirs.
I left that day feeling like I had helped contribute to the greater good of society. Though I only spent a few hours working, knowing that I was helping a family in need provided me with an unmatched sense of accomplishment. Had I not decided to put my phone down for a few hours and step outside of my comfort zone, I would have never recognized how much I could really do. Three years later, the rush that I get when I drive past that house is still so exhilarating. The feeling of knowing I did something meaningful for someone else is greater that any number of retweets on Twitter or likes on Instagram. This is why I serve.
We are not a lost generation. We are instead a passionate, driven people who occasionally gets too wrapped up in Netflix binges and video games to pursue those passions. Days like my school's Service Day and Giving Tuesday remind us, though, to climb out of our dorm bunk beds and get to work. When we do, we start turning the world into a place we want to live in, into a place likely to help us when we need the kind of help we give.
This post is part of a series produced in celebration of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year (2014) on December 2. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. The Huffington Post will feature posts on #GivingTuesday all month in November. To see all the posts in the series, visit here; follow the conversation via #GivingTuesday and learn more here.
And if you'd like to share your own #GivingTuesday story, please send us your 500-850-word post to impactblogs@huffingtonpost.