Not Everyone Has to Be a Super Volunteer
Question: I’m applying to grad school and it seems like they place such importance on volunteering and other outside of work activities, but who really has the time when working full-time? My friends are all pretty well-rounded, but none of us are spending our weekends picking up trash from the side of the highway. Or are there people out there just that much better than me/us?
Yes, there are people out there who are much better than you. People who somehow manage to work a full week while also building shelters for the homeless, spearheading community gardens and organizing political awareness rallies.
Fortunately for the rest of us, these overachievers also tend to be overbearing or socially lacking, and can therefore be avoided without too much guilt. Grad schools want ambitious students, but they also want an interesting, diverse, and socially adept student body, which means not everyone has to be a super volunteer.
But you should be giving back in some fashion, either by the things you create or the people you influence in your daily life. Is your day job making the world a better place? Do you make music that people can relate to? Do you help the old lady next door with her grocery shopping? Do you smile at people on the street, and not just when they trip over the curb?
As a "Citizen of Humanity" you should have something worthwhile to show for your free time. Not necessarily a children’s medical clinic or an animal shelter, but something that doesn’t solely involve fraternizing with the locals at your neighborhood dive bar or reality TV star fan fiction.
Get to it.