Saturday, November 20, 2010

Figuring It Out

I got very discouraged earlier in the week. Two team projects, two problems with team dynamics, and I find myself wondering if what I've been told all my life is true: am I impossible to get along with? Is it me?

I had so much on my plate, and I feel like crap. I've got a unit test on Tuesday. Although I thought I was done with writing essays, I'm not. I've got an 8-10 pager, another argument. I'm juggling the job, which is still a wonderful break from school for me (how odd that a job should be that...a place to relax, to enjoy myself. But it IS). I'm trying very hard to get as much school work done as possible before the kids come home for Thanksgiving. I want to be able to enjoy that day, but each time that I feel as if I am making progress, a new project is added to the pile.

This week, after the awkwardness with Procrastination Girl, I hit a new low. It just occurred to me that if it is true that I'm an awful person, well, I might just as well forget about college, because I'd never be able to function in a team. I tossed and turned Wednesday night, and finally I made up my mind to go speak with my advisor. I didn't know even how to begin, and much to my surprise, I got choked up. Teary eyed. I tried to explain why I was there, and I cried.
I tried to explain how awful I felt about this latest thing, even though I know, for a fact, that I had every right to be aggravated, even though I know for a fact that I behaved professionally and did not get emotional. Still though, still, there was a scene that had people turning to watch the drama unfold, and I was ashamed.

The teacher is good. She pointed out one thing that I had not seen. At one point, I said, "I don't want to be telling her, nagging her, reminding her, what she needs to do. I'm not her mother." And even as I said it, something clicked. The teacher said, "But you took her on because you felt sorry for her. You began to mentor her. You began to make decisions designed to make her comfortable, to put her at ease, to make her feel better. You began to nurture her..." and I finished the sentence. "Just like a mother would." And the teacher smiled.

I guess that's an important thing to know about myself. That I am always going to have a tendency to take care of others. That might be alright for my clients, but it is not an appropriate way to interact with my peers.

The teacher also pointed out that I was a strong student with a lot of life experiences. She said that no one could make me feel guilty unless I let them. She also commented that really, I might want to consider cutting myself some slack on the grades, that a 'B' was above average. All those things I knew, I guess. It's just good to hear them from another person.

"Listen," I said before I left. "If you ever see me interacting with others in a way that I might want to reconsider, please shoot me an e-mail or pull me aside. She said, "That's good to know. I'd have done it anyway, but it's good to know that you're open to that."

I walked to my car in the cold, and I thought about things. I felt better. She told me that I was a survivor, and I was a survivor because I had no other choice than to be one. That's true too, I suppose, although, really, I'd given her a very small view of my life. She didn't feel that it was me, although she did bring up a couple things that I might try to do differently. I felt better.

When I got home, I got down to work. In the past two days, I've gotten three projects nearly done. Tomorrow, I will work on our written report, and our presentation. I'm feeling productive again. I'm hopeful.


Jayne said...

At last you've spoken to someone, who is clearly good at her job, and you know what you're doing.
It's a 2 way street - you may have mothered them but they allowed you to and then expected you to continue in your role as their pseudo mother by doing their work for them.
Kinda makes you wonder how much of their previous school projects their mothers did for them!

Lydia said...

It sounds like you received some very good input from an objective observer. Good on ya' for following up on your concerns. :}

You are a wonderful woman, caring and helpful. But as you know, your greatest strength can become your biggest weakness when it is overused.

I hope this weekend is productive!

Kelly said...

You know, Debby...I think this college experience is teaching you a lot about yourself. And I'm glad you talked to your advisor. She sounds like a wise woman.

I, too, hope the rest of the weekend is productive for you!

steviewren said...

I'm glad you were able to put that stinkin thinkin behind you and move on. I used to take people on as projects until I began to understand that that's not the way I need to interact with others. I even had to stop talking to a good friend summer before last, because I couldn't stop myself from telling her how to handle her problems (she never took my advice anyway). She needed to learn how to solve her own issues and I needed to let her.

The good news is that after a while, we are now able to talk to each other again. I don't feel as compulsive about fixing her problems anymore. I don't know if she knew why I backed off from our friendship for a while, but it was the right thing for me to do.

Mrs. Spit said...

I am always so thankful for those that give us perspective. I'm glad you found some.

Anonymous said...

You are a survivor because you choose to be Deb. And isn’t that what life is supposed to be about – along with a few other things……..

I really feel for the woman with the third cancer diagnosis. It’s what we all dread and it would get no easier with experience. Perhaps expressing the anger and fear is a necessary first step before dealing with it. I wish her well.

You are doing just great Deb. Just keep on being yourself the way you do – that’s what we all love.

Twain12 said...

glad to read things worked out, somethings talking things through is such a help

Bob said...

You know there are times when I decide I don't really need other people, that I am totally self-sufficient, etc. and then I come upon someone who tells me something I need to hear so badly -- as your advisor did for you -- something I already knew but needed it so reinforced. And then I realize God created us as relational people.

But there's a fine line here and it's important not to let people drain us dry as some of your classmates have done.

We learn and we grow. A couple of steps forward, a step back here and there, but we keep plodding.