Day Three of blogging without thinking about it too much

And trying to unblock the writing this way. I promise I’m not neglecting Richard Armitage forever.

Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers for my brother and our family. Still praying that the reproduced sinus rhythm holds. Yes, there’s a storm brewing there. Yes, you may hear more about it. Watch this space.

Pesky is sitting right next to me, but I’ve told him I’m out of words. Which is true. Talked out.

But I hope not written out. Part of my motivation for making this change.

One of the big questions for me since I’ve been writing this blog has been the vocational one. I took this job because I thought it would allow me to write more, and at first, it looked that way. So much time without obligation in my week! But over the course of the year, I realized that that “free” time — that I never had as a professor — had to be used to maintain my sanity. If I talked all day with people about their educational situations and their problems, and problem-solved on behalf of my department, I was frequently completely voiceless (physically, but also emotionally) in the evenings. On so many evenings, while I wanted to write, I felt unable to do more than stare at pictures of Richard Armitage (thank you for existing), catch up on the news, read a lot of fanfiction (Bagginshield, the ship that would have been least attractive to me two years ago, I am looking at you), answer messages from friends that came during the day — and then end the day with a visit to The Best Bar on the Planet, where I felt understood and loved despite my inability to say very much. I’ve started to understand much more in the last year what makes a bar (as opposed to a coffee house) a comfortable place for certain people.

So what have I learned in a year working in student affairs?

  • The amount of help students need or could use approaches unfathomability. The amount of support they are getting is insufficient. It’s not clear where more support should come from, particularly in the midst of a discourse that continues emphasizing how “spoiled” they are.
  • In my opinion: in the aggregate (I’m not speaking of individual cases), the current generation of college students has been let down by every larger force in their lives that could have helped them. They are stymied at every turn. They are given platitudes in the place of things they really need.
  • I advise a boutique subject, so I actually advise many fewer students than the average academic advisor.
  • Even so, I cannot give every student for whom I am responsible a sufficient level of support.
  • I cannot turn off my basic reaction to students, which is that I like them and want to help them and feel badly when I cannot (for whatever reason).
  • I can’t just detach from people’s problems. When it’s my family and friends that is okay, but when it is students (about whom I feel guilty anyway) it is not really tolerable.
  • Given the dilemma between helping someone else and pursuing my own goals, I will always choose to help.
  • If I always choose to help, I will not achieve my own goals.

And the big one, I think: maybe I’m not supposed to write anything. I always think, people who really want to write, do find a way to write, do find a process. Writers write. If I don’t feel the urge to write, and then actually write, then I am not a writer.

(I mean writing in the sense of writing creatively. I spend hours every day now writing other things, advising notes, directions, information, etc.)

Maybe what I am supposed to do is not produce something creative, but rather produce better people. Maybe, despite my frustration with this direction, what I am supposed to do is spend the rest of my life helping people.

I don’t think that’s what I want to do. But I need to try once more to re-orient myself so that the need to help (and the need for help, which is buttomless) doesn’t overwhelm my desires and capacity to pursue my own goals.

Okay — Pesky is bursting to speak and I need to listen to him.

QED.

~ by Servetus on November 4, 2015.

17 Responses to “Day Three of blogging without thinking about it too much”

  1. What you describe sounds like a Catch 22 situation to me – or a vicious circle. A job that should allow you to leave work in the workplace and therefore give you room to write at home, yet the problems you encounter at work are too big to detach from them and therefore are taken home where they steal the time you need in order to write.
    I am not sure whether your conclusion is right. Granted, I cannot look into your soul and decide whether you are a (creative) writer or not, but evidence on your blog tells me you could be. You imply that the reason that you haven’t produced anything to the level you aspire to, is that you are less of a writer and more of a helper. But I wonder whether you really have had the chance yet to properly find out whether you have what it takes to be a creative writer. See above. With the demanding job you have, how could you have applied yourself to the writing process? In order to be creative, one needs more than just time. You need the headspace for it, the muse, the energy to do it. To me it looks as if that is lacking for you – hence I hope you are not giving up on the writing yet. – If you are resigning from your job, I hope you will then find a new occupation that will allow you to test your creative urge. I really really hope you can leave all that weighs down your mind behind – and get the chance to explore the creative part of your soul.

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    • I wonder if the problem is my mind — like I would latch on to any problem. It just happens that I work in a field where the one I deal with most is legitimate and praiseworthy.

      And yeah, I’m resigning. I don’t know if things will change but I am going to try. There will be other things to worry about.

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  2. As you know , I am a huge Pesky fan. I hope he imparts words of wisdom to you, and you can pass them on to us. Over the years you have creatively written quite a few words for someone who is not a writer, but perhaps you don’t count your blog as “real” writing. I respectfully disagree. However, you are the ultimate judge of your writing . Your willingness to rearrange your life to achieve your goals is impressive, to say the least. You go, girl!

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    • Pesky is one of the things I will miss about this setting. However, I think we will still chat (and he won’t keep me from writing!).

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  3. I so understand what you mean about being too drained to be able to write anything, over the years I have felt the same way with work and family demands. Like you I too am often torn between the ‘helping others’ and ‘doing my own thing’ mode. And so now I blog, just to be doing some writing. I have to agree with Kathy that you arleady do a lot of writing on this blog, it just may not be the writing you aspire to, but it’s an excellent start. I find it extremely brave and very admirable that you are now choosing to do your own thing, whatever that may be and however you may figure out how to do that. Like Guylty says, you need to be able to create head space for writing and that is what you can maybe try to do now and figure out for real what is for you and what isn’t. It’s difficult road and you may have to make some sacrifices but you’re trying it and that’s really good and very important!

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  4. 🙂 To declare wanting to be a writer , not only needs decreeing it , but also needs a special state of mind and time to create thinkings for projection or introspection .
    If you are full of people problems , you need a great vacuum cleaner to empty space in you and around you . Than go to your favorite bar ,, as many great scribbers do and did … Squirrel
    “Snacks of the great scribblers” by Wendy MacNaughton The New York Times Sunday Book Review ( http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/07/31/books/review/macnaughton.html )

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  5. “I don’t think that’s what I want to do. ..” That sounds like clarity right there. You have received great advice from the comments above, and I second those. In leaving this job, you will find the freedom to choose, once again, your direction. Take the time you need to experience what it is that generates creative flow for you. There will ALWAYS be someone to help and ways to give of your generous nature in respect to time, your talents, etc. Make sure you plan on time for your own fulfillment as well. One foot in front of the other. Read your last paragraph again… it’s already pointing you forward.
    Best to you on this upcoming journey. Embrace it.

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  6. A good list of insights, there. We can only do what we can do–the rest is gravy, or chocolate, if you prefer (I do). And there will always be some people who want more, but give less.

    And I think the best thing we can do for our students is to empower them–“teach them how to fish”. College was the time when I learned major life lessons of self reliance and independence in making choices. It has served me well. And I try to impart that “you can do it” attitude to my students. And I encourage them to never stop trying for a goal that they want.

    It’s not a mind set of “failure is not an option” that some students think/know that their parents have told them–where success is the only acceptable outcome. It is “You failed? So what have you learned from it? What would you do differently, what would you do the same?” And they have to learn to redefine success and to redefine failure for their own lives–and not impose others’ viewpoints on themselves.

    Sorry, I’m the wordy gal.

    P. S. And I have to ask, is this the “original” Pesky? Or is this a new age Pesky that inherited the mantle?

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    • Well, actually, I do try to empower them. However, it’s really hard to watch a generation that’s been failed by parents, school, political system and government. They work very hard — but they don’t reap the rewards of their labor. Even empowering sorts of things can only get people so far against severe structural problems.

      Frankly, my students are not in the situation that I was in in college. I learned a lot of life lessons, but I had much more freedom to do so than my students do. I tell them “you can do it” because they have no choice. But frankly, the odds are stacked against them and their dreams.

      Same Pesky.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I only just caught up with your recent posts. I am too tired for a long comment but I can relate to the feeling of being drained by work – and my work is neither creative nor about helping others. Sometimes things just get too much. I hope that there’ll be better times for you again and that your brother’s health will improve… Sending you a big hug xx

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    • I resonate to this because I think that in part, I am the problem. I can’t detach from them. A lot of advisors do that and they are successful with their free time. It’s like things just suck up one’s attention. Hang inthere and hugs back!

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  8. […] https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/day-three-of-blogging-without-thinking-about-it-too-mu… […]

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  9. Sorry for getting sidetracked yesterday i wanted to get back as i read you. Crossing fingers for your brothers, loved ones being ok and healthy matters so much, all good thoughts!
    Also hope you can get through the rest of the job. I fear all job which involve people to a large degree don’t keep to their designated 9-5 jobs 😦 i found the only times i didn’t carry the job stuff along with me after hours was when for some reason the day had just involved mostly mechanical organisational tasks that could be ticked of satisfactory and that was that. As soon as it involved people, their jobs, the way they did things and so on it was a different story. Some people can park it away, some of us can’t.
    It is a lot of added pressure and stress many /most of the time but S come to think of it i wouldn’t wish to feel differently.
    With this kind of empathy and emotional involvement you have comes understanding and also enjoyment and just richer emotions, however hard to bare they are sometimes. And i don’t think creativity is possible without deep empathy or sensibility, so what i am trying to say i think is that i am sure this will pay off in the other side as well.
    It is just a matter of not being in a situation where all your energy and empathy is drained off and you are already doing something about it.
    Maybe you will have to find a version of job that doesn’t engage the people side so much or where input is so critical and where you can pour this into the writing 🙂 I’m crossing my fingers that the balance will be rightened for you and all thought of support go towards you for your decision!

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    • I think that puts it really well. It’s not that I couldn’t have continued to do this job but it’s a question of where I want to spend my empathy.

      Liked by 1 person

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