I’ve met a lot of victims this semester. The stories are as diverse as the people. Some are sad, some are entertaining, some are a little frightening, some are completely ridiculous - Really. All contain one element – excuses. “It wasn’t my fault...” “If only…” “But you should have…” “If only they hadn’t…” “I deserve…” “If it weren’t for…”
I have not blogged much in the past few months since returning full time to campus. I have several reasons that I could give you that reflect how much less time I have to write this year than I did last year. I spend at least an hour a day “getting ready” for work – hair, make-up, clothes, packing a lunch, organizing my stuff. I spend at least an hour a day commuting to and from work. While I worked hard last year from home, working at the office is a different kind of work. There are meetings, and committee work, and people dropping in all day long. I can be ‘at work’ for a full day and not get one paper graded. So, the papers come home with me to be graded in the evening which means that time I might spend blogging is spent on other things.
There you have it. Enough excuses for you? The fact is that while all of these demands on my time are true and real and are part of the reason I have not written much – not one of them is an excuse. The truth is that I have made choices about how to use my time. I have chosen grading over writing. I have chosen socializing over writing. I have chosen sleeping over writing. But, make no mistake, I have chosen.
I am, I admit, disturbed by all the excuses I hear. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate. Making excuses is probably human nature. Which of us wouldn’t ideally want to have a constant scapegoat – someone upon whom we could push blame for every mistake, error in judgment, or plain bone-headed move that we make? It would be wonderful. I understand the inclination. I guess what really disturbs me is not so much the excuses but the refusal of so many to take responsibility for the choices that they make when the excuse is revealed for what it really is – a choice.
I think what makes it difficult for many is their own judgment of their choices. Maybe at heart, people recognize that one choice is less productive than another they could have made. Rather than acknowledging the choice – maybe a poor one – it’s easier to make the excuse. Certainly it’s a better choice to get up and take some exercise in the morning – but exercise is hard work. So much easier to claim that we’re too busy or there’s too much to do. We are busy. There is a lot to do. We choose whether to let those things take priority over our exercise or we choose to drag ourselves out of bed a little earlier and go exercise. Perhaps acknowledging that we make choices would force us to see ourselves as we really are. Fallible. Self-centered. Lazy. Irresponsible. And maybe that’s something that our fragile egos just cannot handle.
A new semester begins in January. I expect that I will meet many more victims in the coming months. I expect that the excuses will continue and continue. And I suspect that many of us will continue on, refusing to own up and take responsibility for the choices we are making – myself included at times, unfortunately. So maybe it’s the AA model here – one day at a time, one choice at a time. I suspect we’re all going to need a higher power.
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