I have small problems

I woke up to an e-mail that seemed like a Big Problem. It was from someone who had committed to doing something for me professionally and who had, in fact, sent me another e-mail the day before saying that I could count on him. Nevertheless, I woke up to his newest e-mail, saying that he wasn’t actually going to do the thing. This is after I’ve invested a bunch of time and some money in getting the thing done, and I can’t do the thing without this other person. Also, him pulling out like this can damage a relationship I’m trying to build with another institution. So it’s sucky.

All day long, while this was simmering in the back of my mind, other people kept doing other sucky things. Like not showing up on time to meetings and generally not doing what they said they would do. This bothers me.

Luckily, two things have happened to me in the last few years:
1) I started to learn that sometimes things seem hard, and then you leave them alone for a while, and when you come back to them they seem easier. Also, relatedly, I am learning not to respond to people right away when they’re making a problem for me.

2) I spent some time teaching incarcerated students. This taught me that nothing in my life is hard.

So here I am at the end of my day, reflecting on how small my problems are. Because, true to form, this thing with the person who cost me time and money and a potential institutional relationship is not actually the hugest deal in the world. It would have been better if it hadn’t happened, but it’s okay that it did. And I feel incredibly blessed to be able to take this view of my life and to really get at a gut level that these are tiny problems.

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Author: Happy Balloon

I am a new assistant professor in a STEM field at a research university. If you think you've figured out my actual name (which, sadly, is not Happy Balloon), please refrain from posting it anywhere here. But please do feel free to post all manner of other comments!