Susan L.

Removing a Committee Member

This is an interesting challenge. It was really hard for me to name my committee member, as it is more of an entity, than a person. So, I started with the idea that my committee member is Mother Time, as my constant enemy in life is time itself.

  • There is never enough, 
  • I don’t always manage it well, 
  • I want more of it, 
  • and so on.

So, in further reflection, and in trying to understand how time can be this committee member, I had to dig harder, and I realize there is more to this. This goes deep and into my childhood and upbringing. I was born and raised in a rural area, as a farm girl. Many strong memories from my childhood revolve around the fact that I must be busy, always, and if I wasn’t, I was ‘bad’. It was seldom that I could tuck myself into a good book, luxuriating in an imagined story, and even if I did, I dealt with guilt. The farm ethic that was drilled into me was the fact that one must never be idle because there was just too much to do. Not an easy childhood, and certainly not one most ‘city kids’ knew. 

Apparently, I have a committee and a sub-committee and I don’t know which is which. Is it a rural ethic that molded me or the need to use time well? Of course, my parent’s attitude plays into this also, but as an adult, I can see that they were products of their own upbringing, and just carried on the mentality that they were raised with.

So, how does Mother Time affect me when I want to be creative? Well, she barrages me with a series of questions and comments;

  • Are you sure you have enough time to do this?
  • Why would you start this now?
  • You know you won’t be able to perform to the best of your abilities.
  • You were crazy to have taken this on in the first place.
  • When will you learn to say ‘no’.

The business woman in me has learned to handle much of these challenges. I can stand my ground and retort that I know I’m not going to do my best, but I will be happy with what I am able to achieve.  I feel the need to create so strong, that I will deal with the demons that argue with me. Yes, I could learn to say ‘no’ more to commitments and distractions; this is an area that I know I can work on, and can achieve some level of success with.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to remove Time from my committee, but I do think we can come to a compromise. In reality, Time’s pressures have aided me greatly in my life and career. I get more done in a day than most people; I am a doer. I can dance circles around many, and achieve my tasks rather well. But the catch in all this is that I don’t necessarily spend my time in the way I want to. I am giving in to demands of my teaching career and my business, without much energy left over at the end of the day.

Why was Mother Time on my Committee?

Well, she monitored my success in the eyes of my parents. If I was busy, I was good; if I was idle, I was bad. So, my use of hours and minutes became the barometer of the person I was. I have never been able to shake this. As a child, and even to this day, I feel a strong need for approval. I realize my upbringing trained me to believe that if I was doing something productive I was worth something, and I was a good person; thus approved.

So, where does this leave me in cleaning up the slate of my committee members?

First, I know that my parent’s are no longer judging my value. I’ve already proved that in their eyes. So, I can wipe that one away. That leaves me with some form of reconciliation with Mother Time, as I have termed her. I think the best strategy, is not to remove her from the committee, but to reestablish and rework the relationship we have with each other. 

I actually like being busy and achieving a lot with the time I have. I have learned to make what I call trade-off decisions. For example, I don’t mind that the TV is rarely on. And, I don’t mind being an Internet shopper at this point in my life, as I don’t want to give the time to driving and shopping and doing the run-around. I know that I take on too much. So, I can work towards lessening my load (which I am proud to say, I am doing). This will take a bit of time to execute, but I am laying a plan and just have to stick to it. 

So, ahead I go. I will make strategies and lists and find a better balance that allows me the time I need to feel and be more creative. Taking this class was a step in that direction. Slowing down to read more was another step. I believe I’m working towards some level of recovery with my addiction of being too busy; I just need to convince Mother Time that my decisions are the right ones, and she can nudge me as needed to keep working in the proper direction.

And so to end…. A shot of the clock on my desk. My constant reminder of what is important.