Most of my European life has been spent helping others. In no small part because I founded JobsinStockholm.com in 2006. The very purpose of this job board was to help desperate people. I was one of those desperate people, so I knew how they felt. They found themselves in Sweden with English and their native language, foreign degrees, diplomas, and certificates and zero job prospects. At least that is that is what many felt until they discovered my job board. Then the phone calls started coming in the middle of the night from people looking for work in Sweden from faraway places.
“You are not a social worker”, my Swede would moan during those two years.
Up until this day, however, most of the requests I receive for help come from women. They find me through my blogs and communities I created for black women in Europe and expats in Sweden. Most want help finding jobs, or services, or social connections or advice on how to move to Europe or where to go for help. They want my contacts and leads and a lot of hand-holding at times. They want to vent, they want to talk, but most of all, they want something from me.
But starting last year I felt my giving-to-strangers’ tap was running dry. I became weary. Most of the people I helped didn’t say thank you. Most of the people never followed up to let me know what happened.
Most of the people I helped didn’t even spell my name correctly.
I decided I needed to let the word no become my default reply. I made a brief list of things I needed to do for myself before I could do anything else for a stranger. I gave myself deadlines. I let those deadlines go without completing one single item that was all about me. Months passed too. I must have forgotten about the promise I made to myself. I ended up helping at least one other stranger. I took another chance and put a woman in touch with someone in my network who trusts me. I did this for someone I do not know just because she asked me in an email. And she sent me a response!
I have secured (name removed) as an advisor and he will help me get the company setup.
I cannot thank you enough for this introduction.
I know you dont know my life story and all I have been through, but you must know this right here is changing my life and opening a door for me to elevate myself out of poverty. I am certainly open to sharing my story with you when there.
I will be 36 at end of February. I have had so many setbacks. I certainly am not where I thought I would be at 36 and I am also at that age of the ticking biological clock…ha-ha… That is another discussion as I am yet to locate the guy that I consider my “Mr.Right” or those who know me know I refer to him as my “Barack”. I dont discriminate. I date all races as a good man is a good man 🙂
you have altered the trajectory of my life with your introduction and I can never thank you enough for that 🙂
but I hope I can pay it forward or join your efforts in a cause we share 🙂
Have a fabulous day!
Reading these words caused my eyes to fill with tears. Was this really happening to me? She had spelled my name right, again. She let me know my lead panned out. She thanked me. She told me why she was grateful. She gave me credit way beyond what I feel I deserve and by doing so she single-handedly restored my faith in strangers. She confirmed what I must have always known. I don’t help others because I want to hear them say thank you. I help others because I simply can’t imagine NOT helping others. Thank YOU, T!
But I can’t help but feel that Ms. T has taught me another lesson I can’t quite distill. At least not yet. It has something to do with very carefully choosing whom I surround myself with and distilling why I am a magnet for those in need. Equally important, she has restored my faith in helping strangers.