I coordinated an event at work, and the event happened a couple of nights ago. I do not enjoy the preparation for it, and worry that it won’t work out as hoped. I was looking forward to it being over, as it is the last time, in fifteen years, of doing this event. The relief I was anticipating is not there. I recall now that a similar activity last April also did not have that feeling of relief. Then and now, I feel some sadness. That my self-imposed stress about it was not perhaps, stress well spent, in retrospect.
This week has been another emotional week for me. I have been upset about a couple of things: some students’ needs are being unmet, and lack of response from some of my co-workers. Neither of these issues are new, but my heightened reaction is new to me. I find myself upset that I am looking at the same problems for twenty years. I am upset with myself for not effecting change, and upset with my workplace. I am then upset with being upset!!
I am reminded of the times I have moved out of a house. I have been driven to clean that house to a standard I don’t even try to reach when I reside there. I have said, I don’t want anyone else to clean up my dirt. I am now realizing that is my approach to retiring: I want it all tidy for the next person. It’s a standard I don’t think I will attain.
In my field, we talk about systemic problems versus individual problems, and about having professional impact on the system in which we work. As I look at leaving this field, I am wondering about my professional impact at my workplace. Not saying I didn’t have impact, but through my current lenses of frustration and discouragement, I can’t recall having had impact. I think about the adage of the person on the beach throwing in one starfish at a time. Historically my work has been like that, one starfish at a time. I am now concerned I needed to focus on how they all ended up stranded on that beach in the first place.( Actually, I need to focus on both aspects! A challenge to which I don’t always rise.) When reflecting on this with a co-worker, she reminded me of a student last year, that with our joint efforts, we made a big impact in his life. He is one “starfish” I am glad I tossed back into that proverbial ocean.
With that in mind, this is what I want to remember: I have been in this profession for thirty-seven years. I have continued to grow in my skills and my understanding of my work. I am appreciative of the work opportunities I have had. All in all, it has been satisfying work. I want to finish strong, continuing to work from what I believe to be the best I can give to this job. Since I work with people, I will never get it done, but next May I will stop, retire and call it good.