(letter to students, teaching blog…)

Manage vs Manager

It is that time of the semester where I notice around campus everything changing.  And by “everything”, I mean the mood.  The visual tone of the campus.  It’s stressful, Week 10 is coming to an end.  Midterms, finals not that far off.  Stress—  STRESS!!  How do you deal with it?  Can you deal with it?  Manage it?  Or is it managing you like a dictatorial supervisor?  One of my students offered an interesting idea this morning, of “making an appointment for stress”, as she put it.  And, inventorying those stresses, know exactly what they are, so you can confront them, deal with them head-on.  My idea for stress confrontation (if you’d consider it a “confrontation”), is to be outside.  And I mean, OUTSIDE, OUTDOORS, get out!  Then, forget about it.  I know, that’s easier said than done.  Yes, true.  But it has to be done.  It can be done.  You have to bring yourself to these two places, one physical and the other meditative, or mental.  If we are letting ourselves be controlled by stress (and I many times very much am, so I’m not above this quandary), then we are not living.  We’re existing.  Kerouac ordered us to ‘climb that mountain’.  So let’s climb!   Far above the stress.  Let’s find our pleasure in knowing we’ve defeated our stresses by managing them, knowing what they are, telling them when we can fit them into our lives.  Scheduling them, letting them know when it’s convenient to talk.

Week 10.  And how did we get here so quick?  Because, simply, life is quick.  It moves and jumps and jitters without our permission.  So we need live, not so much try to outrun it but keep pace with it.  When we notice we’re behind, that’s a catalyst for stress.  No…  NO!

No.  Stress.  Ever.

Well, I shouldn’t say that.  IT’s going to happen.  The point of this statement isn’t to tell you not to be stressed or pretend like it doesn’t exist, or even to control it.  I’m advocating that we all know what it is that stresses us, acutely, and go from there.  OR, not just casually “go from there”, but more so develop our own methods and practices for interacting for what gets in our heads.  And that’s all stress is, is in your head.  It can become physical, mind you.  A direct consequence of not knowing how to supervise what weighs on us.

I just thought walking to the cafeteria to get another coffee, “That’s it?  It’s stress that does this?  Why do we let it have so much power and supervisory power?” I know the mood in the library won’t change, but mine will, it has.  I feel better after that walk to the caf’, realizing what this is, the stress and how it’s only important and impactful if I let it be.  No, not, no more.  Looking at my stress index, or inventory, and I’m truly laughing.  Why on earth am I letting “Tires” manage and steer my thinking?  I don’t know, but I know it is.  And now it doesn’t.  That easy.  Yes, you have to bring yourself to this place, and it takes work.

You’re in the management position,  now.