I know engagements are much more fun to talk about, but on this foggy, cold Sunday morning, I’m sitting at my kitchen table sipping coffee and worrying about one of my advisees. I made the mistake of checking my work e-mail in the middle of a long weekend. There’s a situation I need to address, but I can’t until Tuesday, so now I am running through all the conversations I’ve had with this student, second-guessing every word I said and trying to figure out how to rectify the problem. I feel anxious and guilty.
This happens every 10 days or so. At some point during the weekend, I realize something that could be a problem and I panic. I go through all the permutations and inevitably convince myself that the worst one is in store when I walk in the office on Monday.
I love my job — I think that’s obvious from how much I care about the work that I do. But I’m a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. I have a hard time moving on from mistakes and beat myself up about a minor error for days. I blame myself for things that are beyond my control and I make it my duty to fix everything.
These personality traits make it somewhat difficult to work in a field with high stakes, a lot of ambiguity, and even more responsibility. I’m having a hard time keeping everything in its proper place. If I’m not careful, work is going to spill over into my personal life too much. When Jarrod sees me checking my work e-mail, he cautions me: “Work-life balance.” Lately, the scales have been tipped too far on the work side and I can’t seem to turn it off. So my “job” this weekend is to strategize some more effective coping techniques.
I am intense and focused, but not terribly competent yet. I have a lot of learning to do, both about my job and how to be off the job. I don’t have any lesson or advice to offer here, because I don’t have it figured out yet. I’m just acknowledging that even when really great things happen and you’re very happy and fulfilled, that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. My life is full of wonderful things and many blessings. I fought very hard to be where I am right now with regard to work; it took a long time for me to find a great job that I appreciate very much and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have more work to do, though. Life is not static, and I have to continue to adjust my movements to keep up with the pace and gracefully fall in with the rhythm.