I have quadruple-booked myself for Sunday, April the 15th. Two of the bookings are my fault, and two are not.
First, there’s the FASS annual general meeting, which begins at 1pm. No problem, I can make the first portion and skip the latter half. Then, there’s a company social event, which I’d like to attend but will have to miss. Those are the two bookings that are not my fault, which brings us to the ones that are.
Three weeks ago, I bought tickets to a concert. This was a landmark event, as I have never before bought tickets to something without knowing who I was going with. But the opportunity presented itself to get some really good seats, so I chose to jump in and figure out the rest later. I know lots of people who do this…I’ve just never been one of them. Which is odd, because in other things I’m well known for leaping in and figuring out the rest later on. I could expand on that, but it’s not central to the point. At least, I don’t think it is, but I’ve surprised myself before so maybe it’ll come back up later in this scatterthought.
Two weeks ago, I got myself involved in the upcoming KWLT production, which is a series of radio plays. I was told when I auditioned that rehearsals would be on Sundays and Wednesdays, and I didn’t think that would be a problem. I had forgotten about the tickets, and even then, I didn’t expectÂ thatÂ rehearsals would go from 3-9pm, essentially taking my complete Sunday afternoons and evenings from now until the end of April.
And thus I am left with a quandary. In order to get to the 8pm concert, which is in London, Ontario, I would have to leave KW by 6pm at the latest, and that’s pushing it. Actually, I wouldÂ have to pick up whomever I take with me to the concert, so I’d have to depart the rehearsal by 5:30pm. That would leave me only 2.5Â hours out of a six-hour rehearsal, and that ain’t right. When I commit to something, I commit to it. When other people are affected by my actions, I do whatever’s in the best interests of the group. It’s just that simple, and I’ve done it numerous–if not hundreds–of times in the past.
So let’s talk about the past. In the past, I would simply sell the tickets. I wouldn’t ask the director for special treatment…I might not even mention it until the actual day of the conflict. And then one of three things would happen.
- I would find that I made the right decision to attend the rehearsal
- I would mention it to the director and they would tell me something could have been worked out if I had asked them
- Someone else from the group would miss the rehearsal for a lesser reason.
In the first instance, I’d feel justified with a little bit of regret.Â In the second instance, I would feel dumb for not having looked for an alternative solution. In the third instance, I would be very upset that I missed out on the concert when other people from the group aren’t showing the same level of commitment.
The odds of a positive result in this course of action are, quite simply, not good. The majority of the time, I’m left unsatisfied by the outcome. But I accept it and move on.
That’s what commitment means to me. You’re not truly committed to something if you can’t put it in front of your own desires.
Now let’s change the situation a bit: what if we had the same situation, but I wasn’t the person in the scheduling conflict. I’ll tell you what I would do. I would do the logical thing. I would strongly recommend that the friend try to find a workable solution with the director.Â I would even offer to be there to broker a deal, or ask on that person’s behalf. I would, quite simply, do everything I could to make the situation work out for everyone involved, and I would happily ask other people to bend a little bit to accommodate the person in question.
It’s true…I’ve done that in the past as well. I just can’t do it for myself. And it’s summed up well by what I learned in December:
“You are either giving joy or relieving pain”.
If I’m helping someone else in this situation, then I’m giving joy and relieving pain for one person, and hopefully without causing pain for others.
If I’m the one caught in a bind, it’s easier to accept the risk of personal pain and lessened joy than to ask others to do so. Because if I ask for help, others might go out of their way to help me, in which case their joy would be lessened. And I just have a hard time taking that risk.
Better that I should suffer than the people IÂ care about.Â Or the people I don’t care about. Or even the peopleÂ I don’t know, in some cases.
And that’s what it’s like to be me. Or at least, that’s what it’s like to be me up until now. Because this time, I took a different course of action. IÂ asked the director what he thinks I should do, and was told toÂ be at as much of the rehearsal as I can and leave for the concert when I have to.
And you know what? It was a very difficult e-mail to write…even though I knew that’s what the director would say. Or perhaps, because I knew that’s what the director would say. I have knowingly and purposefully asked someone to go out of their way to accommodate me when I could have easily avoided the issue.
And I don’t know how I feel about that. Elated, on one hand, that I can do both things. Frustrated, on the other, that I’m inconveniencing a group of people who are relying on me.
Just so long as this doesn’t become a habit. I wouldn’t like myself very much if this became a habit.
But it’s a start. After everything I wrote earlier this week, maybe I’m finally listening to myself and all the people telling me to put myself first more often than I do. Maybe I’ll eventually figure out where the line is between being selfish and unselfish, rather than standing so farÂ from the edge of the cliff that I don’t let myself be happy.
Maybe I’ll figure out how I fit into this worldÂ sooner rather than later.