Monday, September 15, 2008

Stress for perfection

Walking back from lunch on Friday, I saw a student crying in the hallway and being comforted by another student. I paused because I was concerned, not only because the crying student was one of mine but also because I hate to see anyone upset.

As I was hesitating and both were telling me what was wrong, I couldn’t help but wonder – egotistically – if I was the cause of this student’s distress. My colleague has said that I’m a hard professor, probably the hardest one in the department. I’m okay with that, but there’s no reason why people should start crying over my class! I want to work with my students; I want them to succeed!

I told her that her other class would be fine (the one she was crying over) and I and the other student assured her that this is the first week, after all, and no one should expect her to be perfect.

I left soon after that, leaving the older student to comfort her, as she seemed to be doing a good job anyway, and over the weekend, I realized…Wasn’t this exactly what I had been doing?

I’ve been struggling with trying to be the perfect professor, to not mess up, to juggle, really, two jobs at once – and it’s only my first week! I pretty much missed a deadline this past week AND made an error on a student’s paper. It got so bad, actually, that this weekend my eye twitched probably five to ten times each day for three days. A sign of stress, apparently. Lovely. Could be worse, though, I suppose.

(However, I would like to note that it made me feel better when I learned that the student actually really liked my class and the other class was the sole concern of her worry. Woo hoo! Wait...should I be cheering that?)

As much as I’d like to say it’s genetic (my dad is a World Class Worrier – even has frequent flier miles on Worry 797), it’s not. Well, I’m sure some of it is, but it’s like what my mom says to each of us: “Let God worry about it. I’d rather He worry about it than me, anyway.”

She’s a smart woman, my mom. =)

So I guess this week – Week 2, that is – I need to work on stress-free living. And probably procrastination, too. I procrastinate way too much without deadlines.

Bring on Week 2!!


Anonymous said...

Perfectionism is a hard thing to fight. And while I think there is merit in doing your best for your job, we can't let that attitude of "I must be perfect" spill over into our spiritual lives, or we've just placed ourselves right back under the law. Thank goodness Jesus took all the worry of perfection away for us!

misti said...

I think a few keys to stress-free living include going walking with a friend, blogging, and happy drinks (java city!). I'm glad you're utilizing all three!