Hello gentle readers! I know, it’s been a while. I was trying to stick to a regular posting schedule, but the thing I feared that would happen, happened. My job took over my life. It tends to happen despite me telling myself every year that this is the year I was going to make the life work balance thing happen. Although I am probably not going to be posting every week, I won’t just disappear for another five years like I did the last time. Probably. Maybe.
It’s that time of year where everything is chaotic, and I have multiple events, projects, presentations, and paperwork I have to keep track of. This year seems especially chaotic, but probably only because I was on sabbatical last fall, so it’s been a full year since I’ve had to do this, and I’m doing it with an assistant who is still learning and severely short staffed. I also had big presentations and trainings I was responsible for conducting this year. It’s preparing for the semester to start, In-Service Week, and Week of Welcome to welcome the students back to campus. So, I’ve had to maneuver, adjust, and adapt to things for the past two weeks, because nothing ever goes as planned. Ever.
I am so grateful that I am now medicated and have a better understanding of how my brain works. I honestly don’t think I could have gotten through these last two weeks or the next two weeks or the rest of the semester under the condition I was in before I learned more about myself and my ADHD diagnosis. I’m still learning though. ADHD comes with challenges like remembering things and a lack of object permanence that medication doesn’t necessarily alleviate. The medication does help me to develop more consistent habits, and stay more on top of my routines. I’ve also learned that deviation from those routines can cause some issues.
Things got so busy preparing for my big presentations, and I was going into work earlier than usual, so I didn’t have time to make my morning coffee and go through my morning routine in the kitchen. I was picking up a mobile order Starbucks on my way to work for the week. I was also working late, so wasn’t cooking dinner or going into the kitchen for much of anything in the evenings after work. The problem is, I always take my medication in the mornings while I am making my coffee. My medication is on the kitchen counter right next to my coffee stuffs. Because I wasn’t seeing my medication on the kitchen counter, I had forgotten to take it for three days. If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. It’s not that I forget about things I don’t see entirely, but I definitely completely forget where I put something or the idea of something doesn’t really stick in my mind as being important if It’s not something I am able to see or see on a regular basis.
So, yeah, I forgot to take my mediation for three days. I was able to take my ADHD medication, because I keep some back ups in my desk drawer at work. But I did forget to take my medication for my Latent Autoimmune Diabetes, my LADA. Did I not make a post about that? Whoopsies. Did I mention I have ADHD? OK, so I did do that post, so that’s progress, right? I’ll probably do a post on it at some point. Probably. Maybe.
Trying to come back to work post-pandemic and post-sabbatical have been challenging. The one thing I appreciated about the pandemic was it forced us all to slow down and appreciate what work/life balance actually looks like and how it’s supposed to work. It allowed me to recognize my health went ignored for far too long for the sake of getting the job done.
Now, there’s this pressure to return back to “normal”, and I don’t want it. The incident above is only one of several that has made me realize I’ve been falling back into old habits and letting my work take over my life at the cost of my own health. I need to figure out a way to prioritize my health and well-being over the job. And that means accepting that some times the job just isn’t going to get done, and timelines will need to be adjusted. With that, comes the sinking feeling that it’s going to be perceived as a failure when I already struggle with imposter syndrome. It’s not so much that I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s more so that I am juggling so many things at once that I don’t feel like the quality of the product suffers.
Our office has a staff of two full-time employees. Myself, and I have an administrative assistant to help with clerical work and helping out with office tasks. We have a hand full of student employees, but we only have one at the moment, so we are extremely short-staffed, but even when we do have a full staff, it’s a challenge to make sure they are all staying on task and doing their jobs. I don’t necessarily have time nor a desire to micro-manage, but with some employees, they make it really difficult not to. These are the things that we are responsible for. While I have help executing things, when it comes to planning and developing, those tasks often fall on my shoulders alone.
- Managing and assisting advisors for about 20-25 active student organizations
- Managing and training Student Government Association
- Managing and training Campus Activities Board
- Planning, Coordinating, and Executing Campus Activities including promotion and coordinating with vendors.
- Managing Student Travel and compliance with student travel waivers
- Managing the Food Pantry on Campus including coordinating food drives and volunteers
- Developing and Planning Diversity Training and Workshops, I am the sole trainer in our office
- Giving presentations and lectures for classes and teams across campus throughout the year
- Approving all flyers and postings that are hung around campus
- Booking and reserving spaces on campus for student organizations
- Developing and planning student organization advisor training
- Design, write, and distribute monthly newsletter
- Manage, train, guide, discipline about 20 students in Student Government and Campus Activities Board
- Dealing with constant interruptions making it almost impossible to get things done during the work day.
I think it’s fairly common for Student Affairs professionals to wear multiple hats, especially on community college campuses, however, most of the community colleges also have all the work above distributed among 2-3 professional staff members with an administrative assistant. While they may all be housed under one umbrella like Student Life or Student Engagement; Student organizations, Campus Activities, and Diversity are usually 3 separate departments managed by 3 different people all with support staff of their own focusing on their respective areas.
So, my job is a lot, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of throwing out work/life balance and letting my work consume my life. The only problem is that there are times my health gets put to the side, and that shouldn’t be a thing. The other part, which always feels weird to talk about is that I am placed as a Coordinator when really the things I do are at a Director level position. I make pretty good money, but I question whether or not it is enough or lines up with what I actually do.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the work that I do, and there are moments that can be super rewarding. There are definitely parts that come with the job that are not so fun, but overall, I don’t hate my day to day. It just starts to become a matter of acknowledging my body doesn’t allow me to work at the pace I was once able to, and asking myself, “What am I willing to sacrifice for the sake of a job?”.