Personal branding is important, but can we be responsible for the impression that we create?

In a fine Monday evening, I taught a class of children in Winongo river side, a Sekolah Sungai of Project Child Indonesia, a NGO with concerns on children education, health, and environment. The topic of that day were: snacks that we consume every day. Started from talking about what kind of foods and beverages that are good for our bodies and the bad ones to the environmental impact of the plastic straw and packaging of the snacks. The kids are smart, they were very active in class and I was pretty sure that the teaching materials were well delivered. On my way back home, not far from the school, I saw some of my students brought a bright colored beverage with artificial sweetener in a plastic packaging and sucked it with a plastic straw. It made me laugh in irony and my mind wandered in contemplation.

At first, I thought that by becoming a volunteer, I have to help them and be able to change something from them. But it turns out to a realization that I learn a lot more, it’s actually them, who help me a lot to grow. Are the things that I do have benefits? maybe. Good? yes. But did I make changes? Not that significant (yet). This realization holds me back from sharing my volunteering activities on social media because I’m afraid I can’t be responsible for the impression I created. Because the truth is, my growth is about what I do and what kind of impact I give, not the story I tell my friends. Crashing into rainstorms to come to class so the kids won’t be disappointed, riding my motorcycle for 45 km from home, pushing my brain to think about the programs, it’s not that I am fighting for others, it’s us learning together. I am no one’s savior. Doing good is to humble ourselves, not to feel superior. When I try to give, I always get more than what I give.