Is the world better because I existed?
I think it will never be possible to answer that question in an objective way.
However, I feel that, for most of my life, that I have taken more than I have given. My lifestyle consumes more of the earth’s resources than can be replenished in a reasonable amount of time. My parents have put great effort into rearing me, and I have come nowhere close to expending such effort on another being. And aside from my parents, there is a whole legion of people who have taken care of me.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t given back anything. My parents chose to have me, and rearing me has given them some satisfaction (whether they think they are better off because I exist than if I didn’t exist is a question I can’t really ask them). I’ve had friendships, which I think have been pretty mutual in terms of give-and-take. And I have had many opportunities to help in small ways.
However, since I graduated from college, I’ve felt things shift away from me taking and more toward me giving. For one thing, I stopped living off of my family and now live on my own earned income. Last year I got a job in which I help people. The customers apparently think my help is worth their money.
This year, I started blogging on a regular basis, both here and at other sites. I am … actually a little surprised by how many people have said that my blogging is in one way or another useful to them. Blogging has changed my life more than I expected when I started this almost a year ago.
2013 will be the last year I have to myself.
Though I have started shifting from taking towards giving, I still feel like I am a net taker. 2013 will be my last year of that. Come 2014, I expect to take a lot more responsibility, not just for myself, but for other people as well. Part of me dreads that … but part of me is ready to step up and give back.
I feel selfish, designating yet another year to myself. But I remember, one of the rules of being a caregiver is to take care of yourself. If I took on too much responsibility too early, I think I might blame others for wasting my youth. If I get one more year to myself, I think I will then be able to take on greater responsibility with minimal regret, and take it on feeling that have I received a fair share of my young years.