1, AY 2014-2015

There goes November.

I’m taking this last chance to post something for this month – not that I’ve been updating this blog regularly.  I haven’t been writing much this semester. I have been writing for work – editing and/or rewriting student articles – and reports, proposals, exercises, and the like. What I wasn’t able to do was deal with the personal journal and blog.

That would mean that I cannot remember the specific details of what happened this semester. I can go back to the tasks I needed to accomplish from the to-do lists but I cannot recall the moments, the intensity of outbursts, the negativity, and the few sources of consolation. That’s what I missed. A LOT.

Usually, a semester can fill out a notebook or two and I’d manage to somehow build up enough guilt to upload a post at least once a month. Clearly, that did not happen this semester.

I’m aware that I did a lot of thinking and I was just too lazy to write things down. I’ve gotten so good at coming up with excuses to not write. That’s never a good thing. What I can remember are the things I have accepted and the changes I have done.

I don’t work during weekends anymore. This is a big thing for me. I love feeling guilty about not working hard enough or not being worthy so I overdo things – work longer hours, put in greater effort and/or thought than required, and extend assistance to help get the job done – even if it’s not really part of my tasks anymore. I decided to free the weekends so I could sleep long hours and spend time to not do anything, read, watch movies, and spend time with the family (usually in that order of priority).

Instead of working during weekends, I make sure that I come to work from 7am to 9am. If I arrive at the office at 8am, I’ll promptly leave at 5pm and if I arrived later at 8 or 9 n the morning, then I’d leave at 6pm or 7pm. I need to feed Mako at 5pm-6pm so I need to leave work. If I arrive at the office past 8am, it’s usually because I took Mako for a walk. We both need the exercise. The now seven-month old pup has helped a lot in re-organizing my priorities.

I used to stay until 7pm or even later if there was an urgent task to be completed. I don’t stay that late anymore. I don’t work at home in the evenings or early in the morning. I check student outputs within office hours. I found that I didn’t have to work late hours dealing with student outputs.

I have learned to exert just enough effort to get things done. I’m through overexerting myself to gain the approval of people. I just do my job.

Determining what is enough can be tricky. It took me seven years to learn that. I wish I could have known earlier that I just needed to look at the worst, the most common, and the best so I could determine what can be considered enough. 

I learned how to say “no”. And it felt good! Of course that means I have a way smaller income this year. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m surviving somehow. I just needed to know what it was like.

It seemed like I’m bound to take on all projects offered. That I always had to say yes to such limited (and near impossible) work schedule. I guess I’ve grown weary of signing contracts with terms that never followed, of accommodating demands, and extensions. I found it an unfair setup. I was starting to consider the situation a reality. That sense of helplessness drains one of all the motivation in doing something that one once loved. After constantly finding myself in the same helpless situation – for the past seven years, I knew the mistake was mine. I realized that I had I have always had the option to say no. I was just too afraid to lose clients – and the money.

I have accepted no new projects. I wanted to experience what it’s like to just do this one job and I found that I’m doing enough. I’m not great or exceptional at my work. I don’t strive to be the best, most, or anything of similar nature. I just want to do my job and to give my salary’s worth of work.

I have accepted that people have the tendency remember you not for what you managed to do or accomplish but for what-you-should-be-but-you’re-not, what you didn’t do, or the select situations when you performed poorly. It does not matter how many hours beyond the required time one put in a task or how many times one went beyond one’s responsibilities to make sure that the job would be completed – considering the number of non-performing and/or non-processing members in one’s team. What people will remember is how stiff, indifferent, and ill-tempered you have become.

That’s the frustrated state one can get into when the work load is high, the demands are near impossible, and the other member of the supposed team are not doing their job. People will not bother to think about how one came to reach that intensity of irritability – and still manage to get the job done. It’s always easier to assume and to judge. Why bother asking?

I need a different environment. It’s not always better but it’s different. I need different in a year’s time or I fear I’ll self destruct.

I’m not quite sure when I decided that I needed the change but I do remember waking up the next day feeling light – unburdened by the belief that I have nowhere else to go to if I do decide to leave. There are always options. Not always better but they present a possibility of something different.

In hindsight, the contents of this semester’s posts – had I uploaded more entries -would be mostly about these changes/lessons. It was because of these changes that I have (relatively) enjoyed teaching this semester.

I got sick only once. That’s a major achievement! I used to get the regular flu at least monthly. I say regular because I still manage to come to work. I’d have the more serious fever that requires staying at home at least two times in a semester. I believe I’m more rested and that’s not necessarily less productive – as I once feared. This semester, I didn’t have the fever. I only had the sore throat and flu.

I have time for lunch – with no work to multitask it with. Granted, I still have late lunches. My achievement for this semester would be not having to juggle a meal with a draft revision.

The 7am classes don’t bother me anymore. I used to dread early classes because I’d be sleepy and slow processing for the rest of the day. This semester, I managed to have an early sleep because I leave the office early. And I found time for light reading after dinner – even if I spent the day working on student drafts. I can remember how I used to drag myself back to the apartment, eat dinner in a hurry, and finally get some sleep. I’d wake up still tired. I sleep better now. I even remember dreams! I wake up – courtesy of Mako’s licking – recharged for another day’s work. I still dreaded coming to work for a period of time. Now, I dread it less – if that makes any sense.

I have greater tolerance for students. I have learned not to expect too much and to appreciate what they can manage given the context. I realized how high my expectations were so I made major adjustments.

I may not have written much about this semester, but I will remember it as a period of major changes and decisions.