Monday, March 08, 2010


This weekend, I finished my volunteer training for Heritage Square Museum (don't judge by the bad website--it's being redone). After five weeks of lessons on Los Angeles history, vintage fashion, museum history and tour guide best practices, I am now ready to begin volunteering!

So what now?

Well, I didn't know. Having run volunteer trainings in the past, I understand that the hard thing about managing volunteers can be channeling their excitement and motivation into your organization's needs. And I kind of felt that the "what do I do next" part of the HSM training was a bit lacking. There was a "hey, if you want to be a guide, talk to one of the speakers" explanation, but most of the speakers were busy talking amongst themselves after the training. There wasn't a "sign-up for this activity" or "here's a list of available mentors" moment that could have really harnessed the volunteer energy at its max. I realized that I could have just left that morning with my graduation certificate and maybe never have the opportunity to get involved again.


This experience of my own hesitation and lack of desire to "put myself out there" has had me thinking about audacity. I feel like I've lost it--that willingness to get out of my comfort zone and try new things and meet new people. I used to be loud and brash and outgoing , but I feel like, as I've gotten older, I've become more hesitant and closed off.

I can see how it would be so easy to pull back completely, and only focus on my family, my job, and the friends I currently have. It really would be easy and comfortable. But it would be limiting. Friends move, and family members get busy with their own lives, and jobs don't always last. If I don't want to be ultimately left alone, I need to push myself. I need to fight against that little voice inside that says, "Hang back. Don't interrupt. Be cautious." I need to be a little audacious.


My instinct was to gather my things and walk quietly to my car, but I steeled myself to put myself out there. I've given up too many Saturday mornings to this training to stop now. So I inserted myself into a conversation with the communications/development director and passed my my card, letting him know I'm ready to help. And then I again forced my way into a conversation with the museum director to find out exactly who I could contact for the next volunteer opportunity. It was hard. But it worked.

So my first actual volunteer activity will be as a dresser for HSM's Vintage Fashion Show (pdf link) on March 20, at 11 a.m. I'll be helping the models in and out of the layers of vintage clothing (no zippers!). I won't have any of my historic costumes ready, but I think I'll break out my 1940's black crepe dress and one of my grandmother's vintage hats to wear for the occasion. I will be backstage, but just by being there, I will be audacious.