The Year of No
Much of this feeling is, of course, due to the fact that I hadn't quite finished my syllabi by the time the first day of classes rolled around. Add to that the necessary copying (which got lost), class websites to build, frantic phone calls from students, a department meeting, and a orientation activity for incoming first year students, and it's one hot mess. Is it any wonder why I want to focus on fashion?
All of this has only reaffirmed my commitment to this being the Year of No. I'm certainly plagued by the "yes, I can do that! yes, I'd be happy to take on more service! Sure, I'd love nothing better than to attend more committee meetings! I'll do anything that contributes to student learning!" disease that many of us succumb to (you know who you are!!). But here in year five of my full-time teaching career, I've become conscious that this has two effects:
1) That I'm doing a sub-standard job at everything, because I don't have time or energy to devote to all the different tasks that I've taken on.
2) Even the things that I committed to because I believe in them I end up hating and resenting, because I'm exhausted and stressed.
I don't want to be this person, and I don't want to be this kind of professor. Please note the order in which these two come. I would desperately like to make it through this career without become a warped, angry, bitter person. And since my personality already tends in that direction (I have deep sympathies with Statler and Waldorf, my favorite childhood Muppet characters), I need to nip any external inducements to crankiness in the bud.
So, my answer to all of this? I hereby call for the Year of No. Which means, my first response? No. Can you attend a committee meeting the week before classes start? No. That committee that I chaired last year needs to get a speaker for this coming fall? No. And in fact, I'm removing myself from that committee, thank you very much. Do you want fries with that? No, dammit, it's the transfats! My tally thus far:
- Four students doing internships that want to meet with me this first week. No. Here's email instructions for what you need to do. Let me know if you have questions.
- Colleague wants a tenure letter. I'm already doing two, and they're due in a month. So, no. (I do have a bit of a bad conscience about this.)
- Meet to discuss making a flyer for a conference. No. Let's pass it around via email.
It's not much of a tally, but it's a start. And don't I feel like a hard-ass? Go me! Let's see if the Year of No has any effect on the quality of my life, and my productivity, here in the last year before tenure, shall we?