Ever help out someone? Ever hold a door for a stranger? Ever help out a sibling on their homework? Ever volunteer for an event? Ever explain a concept to a classmate so they can better understand it?

When we’re doing something for someone else, are we really helping them, or are we helping ourselves? I’ve heard stories of people doing something for someone else in the hopes of it acting as an owed favour to be used later in the future, or some people would give others a hand simply because they were told to do so (I see it a lot among kids). Some people do it as a means to boost their self-confidence or their self-courage (among many others), others do it as a chance to try something new or something completely unrelated to their field just because it’s a temporary task.

In Concordia University, we have something called Note-Takers for the Access Center for Student with Disabilities. As the title applies, students like myself would take notes as usual, but the difference is that we would upload them into the Centre for other student to use.

I’ve been offered the task several times, and was never sure about doing because I thought it would be time-consuming given that I might end up re-writing my notes to make them legible and easily understood.  As a volunteer, there’s no pay, but there is a certain recognition that would accompany doing such a job over the course of the semester(s).

But then I hesitate – by taking notes for other people, who would I really be helping? Technically, yes I would be helping them in better understanding the lecture, but I’m also helping myself by going over my notes and review what it is that I had written when in class (My writing in class isn’t the cleanest, and the short-hard doesn’t help). At the same time, there’s an innate fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all of the work that come along with being a note-taker – maybe the students of a particular would email me questions that I wouldn’t be able to answer. However, maybe by doing this, I would be able to figure out a way to efficiently take notes and that I would be able to be more confident in myself in new ways.

Can I write an accurate conclusion? Maybe not, but I can say that by helping others, I would also be helping myself. Whether the act of helping is as a means to have a favour to use later, or simply as a means to feel better, the act of helping can be beneficial for both parties. While it might seem that maybe one would benefit more than the other, it really depends on who’s telling the story.

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