Friday, October 16, 2015

Audience guilt

Our campus is exploding with events right now. Everyone is hosting a talk, or giving a talk, or organizing something for students.  Club meetings. Presentations. I've taken time to prepare for and have presented at some of these and have attended some others.

Right now, there's something every day of the week, including days that I usually do research.

On one hand, it's wonderful to see so much interest and activity.

On the other hand, if you start getting a migraine because you're running from one to the other, maybe it's time to stop.

But what do you do about "audience guilt," the feeling that you ought to be going to show support for colleagues and students?

Sometimes I've emailed the person to say "sorry, but I can't be there" when I have had an appointment.

Does that really help, though, or does it ring false, as in "you should have been there, anyway"?

Last week I was supposed to go to something but was so slammed with immediate work (as in meeting my classes in an hour) that I couldn't.  I got the work done, but the residual guilt got worse.

How do you balance these things?


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Well, I don't go to everything. There are tons of events on campus with my 200+ students participating in most of them. So the abundance means I can't do it all. I do tend to support certain things more than others, like theatre, not football, but even art shows feel important to me. So I give myself a goal -- I'll go to one art opening a year for sure (we typically have four), and if I can make it to more, cool. I schedule in time to go to the theatre productions and just make it a priority to figure out a way to get there. I also say no a lot and sometimes use my kids as an excuse. But if there's more than one thing going on in a given week, I give myself permission to prioritize and go to one thing that would have the most impact - for the student, faculty, or *gasp* me. Then I send regrets to the others. Or not. I don't have a thousand emails saying I'm sorry I can't make it to your event in my inbox. I understand not everyone can be at everything. I think that's okay to acknowledge.

undine said...

Thanks, Fie. This is helpful, especially about not needing to apologize every time you don't attend something.