When thinking about going into a situation I ask myself what can happen and what is the least that can happen. In my past days of higher optimism my expectations were what I desperately wanted to have happen while ignoring the realities.
Volunteering is seen as a selfless act or at least something good to do. The picture that you might get in your head of a group of volunteers is that they are the nicest people. You might think that volunteering will change your life. I probably thought these things in the past but even before I started volunteering, my expectations for people in general was bare bones. I don’t really live by the mantra, expect nothing and you will never be disappointed because I do expect my internet connection not to lag but I don’t expect much when it comes to human behaviour.
From my experience with volunteering thus far, the great majority of regular volunteers are people with too much time on their hands and people who are required to volunteer because of work or school obligations…so retirees, non-profit employees and students.
The majority of volunteers that I have encountered are not that nice. They are often impatient, judgmental and demanding. They’re like union workers in that they do as little as possible, ditch work when the weather is good and complain about everything.
It’s easy to become jaded as the volunteer coordinator because you deal with the volunteers who sometimes feel they are owed something for their unpaid work and also the clients that try to abuse a free service.
It’s possible what I have seen is not indicative of the whole volunteer spectrum. The caliber of volunteer you get at an organization could also largely depend on the type of volunteer gig.
The only thing I expected from volunteering was the opportunity to help people who needed help especially when there was no one else to do it. If I expected anything more there could have been disappointment.