The Burden of Saying No

Have you ever seen that movie “Office Space”? In it, the main character who is a software developer of some sort becomes so stressed out, he decides to quit and go into construction. It’s a great movie, and yesterday, I knew exactly how the main character felt. I wanted to quit and go be a secretary. You see, yesterday, I was informed in a meeting of other educators that a new technology committee is being formed and that I will be facilitating it. I couldn’t object, of course, because my boss and someone else who oversees my job indirectly informed me at said meeting that this is now part of my job. I went home feeling dejected and had an exceedingly long cry since I’m already stressed beyond belief. Then I realized that I’ve got to give up some of the extra responsibilities I’ve taken on that are not directly part of my job, so today I informed the sponsor of a club that I help with that I can’t assist her with that club anymore. It was really difficult as I’ve enjoyed helping with that club and I know she could use my help, but what else can I do? As my boss said last year in a weekly memo, some of us are wearing too many hats. That definitely applies to me right now.

It’s not easy to say “no” or “not anymore” to someone, but there are only so many hours in a day. I’m not really sure why people keep asking me to take on leadership roles when I am not a leader. I’m good at administration and organization, and I’m pretty good with technology, but people seem to get these attributes confused with leadership. First, I’m highly introverted. I don’t like meetings, and I especially don’t like getting up in front of other people, especially my peers. I would much rather help someone (with a club for instance) than spend time planning and administering staff development sessions. I just keep telling myself that Moses didn’t feel like he was leadership material either, but he still answered the call of the Lord. At least I don’t have to go tell a king to let go of all his slaves.

Unfortunately, because of the way I was raised, I’m the type of person who feels guilty about backing out of stuff or saying no. I feel like I’m being selfish and that others will look down on me or be angry with me.The old me would just keep it all bottled up, bide my time, and quit at the end of the school year after finding another school in which to work. In fact, this is my sixth year at this school, and it’s the longest I’ve been at a any single school. I’ve been in education for seventeen years, and this is the fourth school I’ve worked in, which just goes to show how much I just quit and move on rather than assertively state that I feel like leaving and why. On the contrary, I used to polish up my resume and come up with some positive-sounding reason for moving to a new school…”I want to work closer to home” or “I’m now in a serious relationship with someone who lives over an hour away, and I’ve decided to move closer to him”, etc. I’ll never admit, “I’m being given more responsibilities than I can handle, and I’m about to have a nervous breakdown”.

On a positive note I’m still reading the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend albeit rather slowly since I can only read a couple of pages before bed sometimes. It really is helping me ease out of the guilt I would be wallowing in right now. I’m thinking that this is one of those books I will probably need to read once a year since I tend to lapse into negative thought patterns if I’m not constantly challenged and reminded to break them.

So you’re probably thinking, “Uh, she has time to write blog entries!” Oh, but dear reader, you must realize by now that my blogging, which I only do once or twice a month, is highly therapeutic. Blogging helps me reflect on what I’ve experienced or what I’ve read. It was extremely difficult at first, but now I can’t imagine ever giving it up.

So I leave you with this song for now, a song by one of the great rock bands of all time, and a song that’s been running through my head quite a bit today. Thank God for rock and roll!

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