Sunday, September 21, 2008

Musing on independence and help

There is a new person in my life, Kavita. She is my new administrative assistant. As part of getting promoted to Director, it seems that one of the additions that comes with your title is help. Specifically, administrative help. I am not sure what to do with this or how to handle it. Its really got me thinking....

Let's think about it, for the last 18 years, I have been self sufficient, independent and the one who takes care of others. I have paid my own bills, bought my own car, made breakfasts/ lunchs/dinners, cleaned my house, shopped myself, remembered birthdays, bought gifts, made the phone call, etc etc. (Not to down play all of Toms efforts, he is a tremendous help, but with 5 loud americans, there is plenty of work to go around).

This doesnt just include home "work", at work, for the last 18 years, I have answered my own phone, set up my own meetings, made my own copies, set up agenda, created power points, remembered birthdays, organized celebrations, submitted expense reports, booked travel plans, etc etc. I sort of like it.

Now, there is this fabulous person who wants to help me. Do things for me. Look out for me. Protect my time. Tell others "no, she isnt available" or "that time doesnt work for her". I havent gotten this kind of care taking/giving since I was a kid. I am not sure what to do with it. On one hand, I love it! Who wouldnt want to have someone there to only protect your time and your interests (she is great at this, she's a pit bull about my calendar)? She doesnt care if others need something from me, she only cares that I get the time to do what I need to do during the day and that others arent taking advantage of me. She is my external self preservationist!

On the other hand, there is something immensely satisfying about setting up a meeting, replying to an email, cleaning your own bathroom, cooking your own food. Its immediate gratification and you can easily point to it and say "I did that!". Its the same feeling that sometimes makes me pine to be the french fry girl at KFC. Its material and immediate and when you are done, you are done and go home. The days over, the works finished.

And the bottom line is, I am a do-er. I like to "do" things. I am not a thinker or waiter or watcher or talker. I am a do-er. I DO think and wait and watch and talk, but its usually why I am "doing" something else (exercising, cooking, riding in the car - you know - multitasking).

So, she and I are in negotiation, relationship building mode. I am sure she thinks I dont trust her, am looking over her shoulder as she manages my schedule and just a stubborn American. But, that's not it. Its just a damn hard habit to break, this being self sufficient. Especially as an American, oldest child, wife, mother, friend, etc. I really dont have much practice at letting others do things for me or asking for help. Intellectually, I completely get it. Emotionally, hitting 'send' in email feels good.

Here's hoping I can appreciate and embrace (quickly) the feel good factor in letting someone else help me out... She really does rock.