I have been battling low-level pissiness for months now and I think I have finally figured out (sort of) what’s bothering me.
I am so sick and tired of people wanting stuff from me. Time, energy, expertise, good will, various accommodations.
I had more than one graduate students in the past couple of years go back on our agreement on a timeline or work needed because life happened, so I had to make big adjustments to plans or funds or workload. To two of them, life happened repeatedly. To one of them, life kept happening in a way that suggested that the happenings were deliberate, our agreement treated as irrelevant, and leaving me blindsided was not accidental.
You have to be a supportive advisor, you say, and I am. I listen and sympathize. I accommodate. I adjust. I pull my hair out to find a way to redistribute and stretch the funds.
In reality, I feel mostly resentful and taken advantage of because I feel like my trust and my boundaries have been breached and I have been put in a position — repeatedly — where I cannot say no.
I don’t fuckin’ want to know so much about your life. We agreed to something; stick to what we agreed on. If I refuse I am a heartless monster, because only a heartless monster would refuse, but why is there a never-ending stream of requests for accommodations or adjustments?!
Students and postdocs, if your advisor seems like they might have draconian and inflexible policies, it might just be that they were are one time flexible and accommodating, but were burned because with some people there is no end to requests… Some people always want more.
I feel like in life there’s a certain number of fucks to give, and my bucket is now empty. Every additional request makes me livid.
But you might say: People can just say ‘no,’ right? What’s the harm in asking, right?
There is plenty of harm in asking.
Let me be overtly hyperbolic for a moment. Let’s say person A needs a kidney and their family somehow found that person B, a complete stranger, is a perfect match. Then they ask B for the kidney or else their loved one will die; B is their only hope. Sure, B can say no, but this is such an unfair thing to ask of anyone — to give up their kidney for a stranger. By the act of asking B, they are making B a monster if B refuses; B becomes someone who will de facto elect to kill A, whereas in reality making the very request of B is a gross violation of B’s boundaries and the request should’ve never been made. B has a right to bodily integrity. B should not be asked to go under the knife to save a complete stranger at a great personal cost.
Women are socialized to always put others first, to always be accommodating. Every single one of my noes carries an emotional penalty for me and depletes my energy, because I have to override years of programming, and am left to battle the guilt for saying no as a lovely lingering effect. It’s exhausting.
It’s also exhausting to say yes and then have to do the thing I never wanted to do in the first place.
I fuckin’ wish people were more judicious with deciding whether to ask for stuff to begin with. I wish people were less selfish with dumping their needs and wants on me, and then me having to use up my energy and time to battle myself into saying no only to spend even more on the lingering guilt.
My PhD advisor wants me to review his book. How could I say no to him? But he keeps writing books no one reads and this one will be no exception. My PhD advisor probably thinks I owe him that, and I suppose I do; he will not be grateful for the yes, he’ll take it as something for granted, and I will sink a ton of time into something I resent that the world doesn’t need and for no benefit other than the absence of guilt.
I declined participation on two proposal-review panels. I declined one immediately, hot on its heels accepted another one because I am always the most vulnerable when drowning in guilt over a recent no, only to realize I just can’t, so I finally declined that one as well. I really do not have it in me to read other people’s proposals and give feedback right now; I just don’t. Pushing myself to do it would be worthwhile if either program were likely to ever fund me, which neither is. So no, I can’t.
I decided to take it easy with work until the start of the semester, in an attempt to recharge. Yet several colleagues wanted stuff ASAP — busy work, with no good reason for urgency, just because they wanted it. I got into a confrontation with a colleague when I said I was too old to drop everything, again, in order to do something unimportant and random on someone else’s arbitrary last-minute schedule.
I am also saturated with words. Bad words that are poorly stacked together, in particular.
I received several papers on which I am a coauthor for comment. Even attempting to read them sends my blood pressure through the roof. In one of them, so much is bad, I don’t know where to start and I don’t want to deal with it.
In my role as one of the editors for an online flash-fiction zine, I read many, many entries and need to provide feedback for aeach. I started doing this in order to learn how to write better, and having to articulate what’s wrong with each piece has been really helpful. The problem is that many pieces are quite bad and would have to be summarily dismissed… But I still need to provide constructive feedback in the sandwich form (something good/constructive criticism/something good), which is really hard to do for bad pieces. I need to take a break from editing because it leads me towards resentment of the written word.
Twitter is also getting on my nerves (I have two separate accounts, but am mostly active on the fiction one). I don’t follow all that many people and I keep muting (apparently, many folks get upset when you unfollow them *eyeroll* so I mute instead) and blocking retweets from the people who amplify far too much content… And I still feel that I read far too much of what I don’t care about and keep missing stuff that I do care about. Twitter is not contributing to my happiness, I will tell you that.
I just read on a blog I sometimes visit: “I could care less.” NOOOOO! The expression is “I couldn’t care less,” as in “I don’t care at all.” I wish people stopped for two seconds to think how wrong it is to indicate a complete lack of caring by saying “I could care less,” because the phrase clearly indicates that you do care a lot and could care less. It drives me freakin’ bananas.
I might need to find a place with no internet and no people, and expose myself to abstract art and nature. And perhaps pantomime.