Knocking heads

Today, I confronted what is sure to be one of the most difficult aspects of my new job as a tenure-track assistant prof: throwing down to the powers that be when it’s really, really necessary. Only a few weeks prior to my official start date, I had to deal with a less-than-optimal situation at TT University. Nothing awful, but handling it gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wasn’t rude, or even a hard-ass; I just simply refused to give myself an escape route for backing down. It was hard… and it worked like a charm.

I was raised in the South, sometimes being told to never back down, other times expected to let my inner *Southern Belle* shine. Standing up for myself, especially to people with whom I’m not very familiar, can be incredibly challenging. I always want to provide myself an out, qualifying my demands so as to not bother others or hurt feelings. A little knocking of heads never hurt anyone, though, especially not those in the upper echelons of academia.

Keeping my Southern Belle alter-ego in check is going to be hard, but I have to if I’m going to make this career work. And now I know I can do it. Go me 🙂


6 thoughts on “Knocking heads

  1. go job! start as you expect to end is my motto. As soon as the powers that be learn you aren’t a push over, they will move on to other peeps to torture.

  2. The Southern Belles in my department seem to be very good at getting what they want in a very apologetic manner. “I wish I could but …”

    I have noticed that the people who always say yes get asked all the time. The people who say no from time to time are asked much less frequently.

  3. As an undergraduate I worked for a Georgia Southern Belle. You could always tell when she was totally pissed off because that was when she went southern – talking with a drippy sweet Georgia accent, being extra, extra polite. There may be similar aspects of your southern upbringing that you can make work for you.

  4. In this particular instance, I wasn’t actually being asked to do anything. I was the one doing the asking, making sure something that needed to be done yesterday, but just wasn’t on people’s radars, got done today. Keeping it on people’s radars, without feeling like I was being a nag, was surprisingly hard for me. The trick, I found, was not *asking*, but kindly *insisting*. I imagine I’ll have an even harder time saying no when I’m put on the spot; for that, I’m taking lessons from Gerty.

    And I’ve gotta say, though – I really like the idea of harnessing my inner Southern Belle to indicate when my patience is wearing thin; I’ll definitely need to find a way to work that into my repertoire. 🙂

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