Picking up the slack

WARNING: I am about to whine and feel sorry for myself. Move along if you don’t want to read that kind of thing.

Do you do it? Do you find yourself constantly taking on the tasks of other perfectly capable people who suddenly forgot that they are an adult with commitments? I do. It sucks and I’m going to try to stop.

I am a member of a lot of groups. In addition to full time work and my family, I’m an active member of a local Junior League, a board member of a local cultural institution (as a representative of that Junior League), a board member of a career-related local group, a member of several professional committees and working groups, etc. Really, the lists go on and on.

Now, outside of the Junior League work, most of the commitments shouldn’t take up a great deal of my time – in theory. Most have work to do in short bursts through the year and much of the work can be done during my regular working hours, as I’m serving in a professional capacity.

It doesn’t work this way in practice. People are just so flaky. Really, where did all of these flaky people come from? Why do people want to commitment to all of these extra jobs and tasks if they really have no desire to follow through? And then no desire to let you know they aren’t following through? Or no display of even the smallest understanding that they suck? Or never answer a single email?

Really – everyone gets overextended sometimes and everyone tends to take on one too many things. But when did people stop saying, “Whoa, hey. I said I could do this, but I can’t. Help.” Is that really so hard? I’d gladly help in any way I could, but if I have to step in and do your work without a word from you – I’m going to start to get pretty damn resentful.

Junior League is the worst offender. Never have I seen so many supposedly professional women practically lie to your face about what they will do and when they will do it. At first, I thought my work ethic was just a bit off-kilter – I mean, I’m a perfectionist and a people-pleaser, I’m assuming that other people not burdened with those gifts find it easier not to get wrapped up in the planning and tasks. But I’ve decided that isn’t quite the case. I’m not the one with the problem here.

Why would you want to be in a group – one that you have to pay a membership fee – and then not do any of the commitments? Why would you want to show up at meetings, take on tasks, and then just disappear? And I don’t mean that figuratively. I’m talking about people literally never again heard from by email, telephone, text, etc. I’ve heard it explained that people want to add the Junior League to their resume, but don’t really want to have to do anything for the group. This doesn’t make any sense to me, as I can’t think that having this on your resume would help you secure employment in any way. I joined the Junior League because I wanted to be involved in the community and meet new women in my area. [This may be largely due to the fact that I am firmly entrenched in the history field. Historically, these groups haven’t always been on the “right” side and membership isn’t anything that would be looked upon as a rite of passage or sought-after honor.]

So, I am going to stop. It is not my job to make sure you succeed. I will do my assigned tasks. I will help out whenever I am needed, but I am going to stop picking up the slack and allowing other people to coast along and ignore their commitments. If they made the commitment, they should fulfill those commitments.

Maybe I’m just too cranky.

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