Humble brag alert: in three weeks time, I’m running a half marathon. For charity. Yep, get me. Putting myself through 13.1 miles of hell (I’m not a natural runner) all for the sake of the kids. Kids affected by war in fact – I’m aiming to raise £230 for the excellent organisation War Child. It’s very selfless of me.
Except it’s not, is it? Because I would be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed casually dropping into conversations (many of which had nothing to do with marathons, or running, or even fitness) that I’m “in training” for a half marathon. Or the woe-is-me routine in the pub on a Saturday night, where I refuse that G&T because I have to do my “long training run” on a Sunday morning, everyone around me nodding in sympathy and adoration – much as I imagine you’re doing now.
And then I was just about to post the obligatory “I’m doing this very difficult thing for this very good cause + JustGiving link” on Facebook when I remembered, not all that long ago, getting annoyed about how many sponsorship requests had been showing up in my newsfeed. I’d given to some, but many I’d ignored. How could I expect anyone to donate for me? Because sometimes, it feels like we’re all doing it – running marathons, attempting a triathlon, growing our armpit hair. But what if, through our willingness to do “stuff” for “things”, we’ve lost sight of charitable giving for its own sake? When I saw this story
last week about a group of blokes who had become so jaded with all the sponsored events they’d been asked to contribute to that they decided to walk nowhere special for no reason at all, I gave a wry smile. But it works the other way too. I don’t give just for the sake of giving, just because I can, just because I should.
Knowing you’re raising money for a good cause while pushing yourself through a tough physical challenge is great motivation. And there are of course many who do it because their chosen cause is something that has affected them or their loved ones. There are also those who complete truly astounding feats – your Everest base campers, and such like. I would never seek to diminish anyone’s efforts.
But having realised my own self indulgence (and I may be the only one exhibiting such selfishness) I’d like to separate my charitable giving from self congratulation. And remember sometimes to give just for the sake of it.
And I will. Once I’ve got this half marathon out of the way.
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