Or lightly, or whatever.
I absolutely hate it when people say that. I am not a person who says this about myself. I think it’s pompous and awful, and usually the people who say that are people who are, actually, fools, in my estimation.
But here are some “qualities” I have.
- I get very, very impatient listening to people talk in a meeting when it’s clear that they did not prepare for the meeting.
- I get incredibly, deeply frustrated when people make complaints but they don’t back those complaints up with evidence, or they don’t offer an alternative.
- I get entirely fed up when people offer up alternatives that are impossible given external constraints that we don’t actually have the power to manipulate or change.
- I get positively irate when people expect things to magically make them happy, as if that’s a priority – their happiness – for everybody in the free world, when they aren’t willing to do the work to make themselves happy. When they expect other people – i.e., me – to make them happy.
So while I never say that I “don’t suffer fools gladly,” the truth is that I don’t. And because I don’t, I do think that people think I’m an arrogant, pompous, know-it-all asshole. Maybe even a fool in my own right. Which I don’t actually think that I am, but then, maybe those “qualities” of mine say more about me than my self-assessment does.
I don’t think those “qualities” make me a bad person. I think they make me an impatient person, and I think that they make me a person who ultimately has an internal sense (however right or wrong it may be) of… well… justice, for lack of a better word. I just don’t think that it is just for people to spend my time with their opinions and complaints and ideas when they haven’t done the work and thinking to back those up.
Now, I will be the first person to admit that I can get tunnel vision fairly frequently. I tend to be a very determined person. A decisive person. It tends to be the case that when I express an opinion, I express it in such a way that it seems like I think it’s the One True Way of Thinking. And it’s also often true that my first impulse is to think that my perspective, after all the work and the thinking, is the One True Perspective. But I do know this about myself, and I’m not opposed to changing that perspective if somebody, who has also done the work and the thinking, which I respect, makes a strong case. But I do tend to need to be shown how I’m wrong (some people would say that I need to be forced to see how I’m wrong). This is not something I’m proud of, but it is my personality. I am not naturally open and collaborative and inclined toward “sharing” ideas just for the sake of it. Either do the work first, or shut the fuck up, is my general attitude. Either have a concrete plan, backed up with support, or keep your “ideas” to yourself.
As you might expect, not everybody is a fan of this attitude of mine. But people are huge fans of all the work that I have tended to pile on myself in order to keep things running; they have been huge fans of the results that I have gotten. But a lot of people right now, I have a sense, aren’t huge fans of me. And, I have the sense, that a fair few people are blaming me for some things that I made happen, through all of my hard work and because I actually executed charges that I was given.
In some ways, this lack of a fandom is entirely positive, for me, as a person. It means that the pulling back that I need to do, the focusing on things that I care about that I need to do for myself, is going to be a hell of a lot easier. But it also… it makes me kinda sad. Because I think that people don’t realize that even though I can (do?) come off as an arrogant, pompous, know-it-all asshole, I actually do have good intentions. I just want things to be better than they are, and I want things to work – and I’m more comfortable with the idea of things getting better and with things working than I am with things staying the same.
But. And this is really the lesson, I suppose. Maybe my impulse to fight to make things better would be more effectively channeled into my own individual professional life rather than into making my department, college, and institution better. First off, I’ll be a hell of a lot more pleasant to people if I give up on the latter. I’ll resent people a hell of a lot less, and I’ll be much less difficult.
This isn’t exactly a new insight of mine, but it is one that has been confirmed as this semester grinds to its close. And, luckily, I have been successful this semester in divesting myself of some major service responsibilities, and I have not been chosen for some other ones, and so for the first time since I earned tenure, I really am the master of my own destiny right now. This is not to say that I won’t be doing service – I will, but my “big” responsibility is going to be departmental, and it’s going to be much less intense than anything I’ve been doing since tenure. Think monthly meetings rather than weekly (or more) meetings. And my schedule is going to be entirely reasonable for the first time since my sabbatical. No more three classes back to back to back! No more Motherfucking Tuesdays! And I’m back to teachingliterature for the bulk of my teaching load! (Not that I hate teaching theory, or teaching writing, or teaching about the discipline in our intro the major class, but none of these was why I went to graduate school.)
But so, here are my goals for the next few months, for the next year.
1) I am going to continue to invest myself in teaching in the way that I did this semester. That was really, really good.
2) I am knocking out the entirety of this book manuscript between now and December. It may be rough, but I’m going to have a complete draft.
3) I am going to do my best to get a book contract before August of 2013.
4) I am going to apply for a shitload of grants and fellowships, in the hope of getting just one. I don’t care how small or how large, but this is something I want as a post-tenure scholar, and it’s good business, given the current realities of funding in state-funded higher education. And I’d much rather invest my time in that than in most other things that would bring in some extra money.
5) I am going to say no, regularly.
6) I am going to begin working in earnest on my application for full professor. It’s still unclear to me whether I can apply in Fall 2013 or whether the soonest I can apply is fall 2014, but I am going up as soon as humanly possible.
7) I’m sending out an article-length version of one of my chapters by June 30, because dude, why haven’t I done that before now?
8) I am going to get a revise and resubmit resubmitted before Aug.30 because also, dude, it’s about time.
That’s what I need to focus on. And none of the above involves suffering fools, gladly or otherwise. And none of those put a target on my back.