In recounting my day, I realized two things about myself. I am a nerd and a goody-two-shoes. Of course, the gf was helpful in the self-realizations!
When I started explaining the things I had learned at the U presentation today to the gf, she rolled her eyes at me and called me an "administrative nerd." I am a nerd, she explained, because I find the administrative details we discussed--such as how the budget works, how policy decisions were made, and the role of the Board of Regents in policy and budgeting decisions at our university--incredibly interesting. I guess I can see her point. I have read the Chronicle of Higher Ed since I was a doc student, and I still find it one of the best reads in town. Really, it is both educational and entertaining, providing insights about teaching, admin, and so on, alongside academic scandals and salacious gossip. What more can a girl want? I also follow my discipline: who is being hired where, which Deans are succeeding and which are failing, where schools fall in the US News rankings, and who has good jobs available. I have only recently come to understand that other faculty don't do this! So, I am only now coming to grasp my true nerdiness.
The goody-two-shoes part I learned about pretty early in my faculty life. In my first faculty meeting as a new assistant professor, we all were assigned tasks to complete before the next meeting. You probably can see where this story is going. At the next faculty meeting, turns out that I was the only person who did what we were asked to do. It NEVER occurred to me not to do it. I assumed that everyone would complete their tasks, and I was shocked that people said that they had "gotten busy," "forgotten about it," or just "had other things to do" and ignored the assignment. And even while I now see that not completing a task is a possibility, I hardly ever do it. I have learned not to put all of my time and energy into everything, but to prioritize my tasks and save my energy for the important ones. But I am not one to blow off a task. I would rather refuse up front to take a task on than to ignore it. Mostly my behavior is rooted in my desire not to be seen as incompetent, lazy, or forgetful--all of which I have been (or been called) at one time or another.
This is why cancelling the meeting was a big deal for me. I know, I know--for most people, it would be an everyday occurrence. I have had people cancel meetings with me all the time, and I have never thought twice about it. Yet, I always feel like attending a meeting is a commitment, and I rarely cancel them, especially with someone who is supervising me. What if they feel like they have been blown off and get mad? What if they think I am not serious about my administrative job? But today I realized that something had to give, and this meeting could be, and was, easily rescheduled.
This is a lesson I clearly have to learn and re-learn. I had the same issue around cancelling class, which, again, I rarely do. It actually took me 2 years, and some prodding from the gf, to get me to cancel class once when I was sick. (I usually get someone to fill in, lead class, or show a movie or something.) The gf said, "You know, the students will probably be happy and relieved." I was surprised to find this was true. The same goes for meetings--cancelled meetings equal free time, which is usually not a bad thing. (It is only bad for me when I don't find out that the meeting is cancelled until late and I am only coming to school for that meeting. That sucks.)
So, I will just admit to my nerdiness and status as a goody-two-shoes. Both of these qualities seem to help in administrative life, at least most of the time. And I can occasionally ignore a task or cancel a meeting and feel like a rebel. Who says administrators aren't wild?