The adult world is an overwhelming place.

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The adult world is an overwhelming place. Even today, as I was walking downtown to write, a group of people stood outside passing out flyers and inviting people to “Community Council,” some sort of community organization. I stopped walking and began talking. This is my ultimate downfall, I always feel compelled to stop and find out what they’re selling. Oh, I see, they’re meeting this Monday and anyone is invited to share “ideas for our region’s future!” I pulled that last phrase directly from their flyer.

“Maybe I’ll go.” I thought as I walked away with my free root beer float. But as I walked away I began to think. I’ve been blessed and burned by my involvement with community organizations. And when I did join in and take leadership roles, demands on my time became greater — but then, is any of it really *my* time? But that’s a digression for another time.

As I said, the adult world is an overwhelming place. I often feel pulled in multiple directions by multiple groups of people, and Walla Walla seems like a place where I could easily fall into the “too involved” trap. I have hobbies, (and us Mattices like to collect hobbies, I’m telling you), faith, writing, family, friends, community. Some of those things blend together, some of those things conflict with each other. I guess I’m just tired, and I’m not being ironic, I actually stayed up way too late last night. But I’m afraid. I’ve been told it’s good to get involved, to care about things. And yet, at times, when I’ve gotten too involved, I ended up on the wrong end of things. It’s truly exhausting trying to survive in the midst of other people’s conflicts. My nature is to resolve conflict, and when I can’t resolve conflict, I begin to resent those who created the conflict in the first place. I hate that feeling, the feeling of resentment. It eats away at your perception of people until you yourself feel rotten for those feelings.

This, of course, is not the whole of my experience with community involvement. The work blessed me with beautiful friends, fulfilling opportunities, and wonderful knowledge. I’ve learned to lead out and speak up. I’ve learned to organize and gather people to particular callings. I’m a very different person because of where and when and with whom I’ve volunteered my time.

I guess the question is, where will I find the balance. Where will I draw my boundaries. Perhaps here I will learn these skills.

-Benjamin Mattice

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