Bons mots

  • "We live as though the world were what it should be, to show it what it can be."
    ~ Angel, "Deep Down," Season 4

  • It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack
    of what is found there.
    ~ William Carlos Williams, from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”

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November 06, 2013

Comments

Well, it's a learning curve, and every sort of work has trade-offs, and some relationships are just hard. Maybe you'll decide that administration just isn't what you're cut out to do, or maybe you'll decide that it's something you can take your turn at from time to time b/c there are some kinds of administrative tasks that circulate. Or maybe you'll decide that there are some sorts of administrative tasks that you really aren't so good at, and will delegate to others when you are truly in charge. Or maybe you'll decide that there's some kind of learning-to-be-an-administrator seminar that would be really helpful (I've been to a wonderful academic mid-career seminar run by HERS; I also went to a how-to-be-a-dept-chair workshop when I first became chair).

Ex-Co-Author has been part of such a toxic relationship with you for so long that I wouldn't use that as a guideline for whether you're suited for administration or not. And being an interim chair is a challenging job--it's short term. You didn't get a lot of preparation, and you're not staying in this role.

All of which is a long way around of saying you don't need to decide right now whether you're suited for admin work--on a day like that, you need to cozy up, restore yourself, and later do the balancing and reflecting about what's pleasing to you, what's not about administration. No need to rush to judgement....but definitely a need to rush to whatever fills you back up. Sorry you had such a hard day.

Maybe ex-coauthor has been weirdly verklempt (and unprofessional) because of the stress of her husband's medical condition.

Sorry it's been so rough for you lately. I think it would be entirely normal to feel the way you felt after these interactions. You're not a too delicate flower!

My own experience suggests that it's not this experience but the next ones. Over the course of a year you sort of develop a stamina for stuff like this and you start to be able to tolerate idiots -- or you don't. I think the first time these things happen are rough for everyone. Some learn to deal, some don't.

Let me just say I feel your pain. I used to crumble a lot over stuff like this. And then I decided that it was about them and not me, and now, I still feel kind of icky, but not devastated. Mostly I struggle with how to deal with it in a professional manner. And those decisions can be gut wrenching.

I'm still a little surprised by people who lash out in a personal way, but I do kind of expect it now.

Yeah, I agree that it takes a while, and then you realize that a certain percentage of people are going to be jerks a certain percentage of the time. Frankly, the "selfish" comment is terribly personalizing--it is indeed an asshole move, and I'm glad that he apologized. Co-Author you already know is kind of a hot mess, so no big surprise there. I hope that both your email saying you would cover and her email being a jerk went to everyone, because it's kind of nice to let other people demonstrate their jerkiness and your graciousness once in a while!

I have a mantra I use from time to time and as silly as it sounds, it really helps when I feel myself getting to emotional over work stuff. It is "let it go, let it go" sung to the turn of "Let It Be."

It is still a struggle sometimes to keep the professional face on, but really I feel better.

Thank you all for the supportive comments! A couple of good nights' sleep has me feeling much better. I'm also thinking that sensitivity, like most personal attributes, cuts both ways. Yes, it means that things get to me more than I would like, but it also means that I'm doing a pretty good job (I think) at supporting some other colleagues. There are some other department chairs who clearly just don't get distressed by these interpersonal things ... but the downside is that they sometimes hurt other people's feelings by being kind of unaware of them. So there are pro's and con's to different types of leadership qualities.

This is a very important insight. Some reasonably good administrators have skins of rhinoceros hide, which is fine up to a point--until they need to put themselves into the position of more sensitive folks!

Interesting post. I feel your pain. In my late 40s, I'm still discovering things about my emotions. I, too, am sensitive to rudeness, and would at times ruminate all evening - or more - over such occurences. On other instances, my response is to brush it off with "Well, whatever" perspective.

The difference? Sleep. If I don't get enough, or it is too disrupted, I get really sensitive.

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at a pretty darned good high school (the justly famous Fabulous Girls' School, or FGS). I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City, where we are hoping to have more frequent adventures than we have thus far. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

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