Ever notice the person at your work, at your church, in your neighborhood – wherever – who seems to have waged a not-so-secret campaign to out-participate you and everyone you know? Most of these people got their start back in the junior high/early high school period when volunteering comes out of nowhere and suddenly becomes the rage (mostly because colleges overemphasize its importance for admission). Anyway, I’m not ripping here on people who are active, support causes or especially on people who volunteer. In doses, these are very healthy things to do for others and for oneself. I am, however, ripping on the over-participators who are so focused on participating in things that they seem to forget about other important things – like say, making time for their family. You know who they are. They are the ones who make you feel sort of guilty that you haven’t run in a charitable 5K recently, or that you aren’t at all active at your church, or that you don’t coach your child’s team, or that you aren’t a highly ranked PTA member, or that you aren’t on multiple committees at work, or that you don’t attend most class field trips with your child’s class, or that you don’t support the local art museum, or that you weren’t answering phones at the local PBS fund drive until midnight last night.
I have learned that in order to best deal with these people, it helps to simply state “you’re so…capable” . First of all, this is exactly what they are longing for you to say (though “you’re so…altruistic” may also be a winning comment). And secondly, there is a chance that by making them feel good about themselves in this way, it may distract them at least momentarily from guilting you into participating in something that you really have no interest in participating in.