It’s Rarely About You…Until It Is

It's Rarely About You | New Faculty


I’ve been coming under some scrutiny lately. By someone who’s NOT in academia. Yes, they work for the university, but they have to clock in/out 8-5. They don’t work weekends, they don’t have any responsibility outside of 8-5. Sometimes, I’m jealous. I’d REALLYYYY love being able to leave work at work. I’d really love to clock out at 5 and have the rest of the day to do what I want. But I don’t and I’ve always been ok with my decisions. However, lately, I’ve found myself being called to the carpet over someone elses’ insecurities about my work schedule and I’m not really ‘feeling’ it lately. In fact, I’m getting down right annoyed.

As an academic, I have the ‘luxury’ of being:

  • self motivated
  • creating/setting my own calendar
  • being more self motivated to produce/publish
  • working odd hours–until 7-8 p.m. 3 nights per week
  • working regularly on weekends when needed due to the nature of my work

I have been very careful to NOT complain or air any of my dirty laundry about faculty life, but one day, some passive aggressive comments came my way when I was feeling under the weather and took the morning to see if I could cut the fever I was running.

“Lucky you, you can just stay home.”

At the time, I was in no mood to really argue because I really was running a fever and feeling a little like dog poo in the brownest sense of the word. I let it slide because sometimes people have stuff that’s not my stuff.

What this person didn’t know if that I spent the morning on the couch, drinking tea, and working on article edits. Not exactly the most ‘restful’ thing but it was something.

Why am I defending this anyway?

The next time it happened, I came home for lunch after a series of meetings off campus and before heading out to collect data. Upon entering,

“wow, you’re free a lot.”


I think it’s time for some ‘come to jesus.’ I don’t judge anyone else and their work (unless it was that time I had crooked hair and had to go back for a re-cut) and people are working hard, whether it’s punching a clock or not, so where did the scrutiny come from?

Now, repeat after me:

It’s rarely about you.

Whatever this person has going on, it’s not my beef (or chicken, turkey, venison, or pork).

Whatever this person is feeling, it’s not my feeling.

I don’t do that kind of competition.

After several off handed comments, I finally womaned up and said, “this is not a competition” with very open, aggressive, and albeit negative body language.

I had had enough. 

Maybe it’s because the last push of the semester is here. Maybe it’s because I’d had enough in general but my statement was short and sweet. It got the point across.

As we race to the finish of another semester and earn a little down time, I’d like to share the following phrases to help keep us all in line:

“it’s rarely about you.”

“thou shalt take no shit sometimes.”

As new faculty we sometimes come under scrutiny for reasons with which we cannot understand because someone is just looking for a tiny punching bag and who better than the low man or woman on the totem pole? While we don’t want to step on toes, it’s sometimes crucial to stand up for ourselves. Not another word has been mentioned since then. The end….

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