Opinion | It’s all about the management

By Anita Bengert, Staff Columnist

“It’s all about the management,” my boss told me defensively when I asked why people are unionizing at my job. I reflected on that later and thought, “Yes, it is all about management” — managing your emotions, time, priorities, expectations, habits and so forth. A good manager, first and foremost, manages themselves and leads by example. 

Many supervisors have a hard time delegating work to others, which ultimately leads to feeling overwhelmed and placing blame when deadlines approach. It shouldn’t feel taboo to politely say “No, I’m sorry, I have too much on my plate.” We’re humans, not robots, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about prioritizing ourselves. This sentiment also applies to staying in and not feeling obligated to go out with your friends. Self-care should be at the top of our minds and if not, all your stress and anxieties will transfer onto the ones you love. 

I’ve grown a lot in my past four years of college. Around 18, I began questioning everything. I felt like a wide-eyed fawn prancing around in a world I once naively knew as a place of wonder, magic, and hope — to what I now realize was all a facade. My childhood was blanketed with privilege, and the “adults” I previously held in high regard revealed themselves as children in disguise. I had to find a way to contain my frustration, to change this feeling of helplessness, and to forgive the world and its people for their imperfections. If I couldn’t manage that, then I would be an irritable “adult” displacing my emotions onto others. 

Unless we take individual responsibility for managing our emotions, time, priorities and expectations, people will continue to butt heads with each other. Projection manifests in different forms, including subtle verbal comments, gestures or offensive demeanors. Self-awareness is essential for personal growth, and practicing empathy and being considerate of others is crucial for coexisting in a world with billions of individuals.

Disappointment is the adverse outcome of setting unattainable standards. Many fantasize about high school and college as magical experiences, when in reality, these phases of our lives are distinct for everyone, and those who set unrealistic expectations may feel disheartened. Personally, I never predicted a viral disease robbing me of two significant years of my youth. But after removing my expectations and going with the flow, I’m now leaving college with unrepeatable memories that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. 

High expectations can create unhealthy dynamics of judgment or criticism, leading to strained relationships and misunderstandings. I’ve worked with plenty of professors and authority figures who lack flexibility, instead micromanaging and demanding perfection, when in reality we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Once you get out of your head and recognize that not everyone possesses the same abilities or capacities as you and vice versa, you’ll start to adjust your expectations to a more realistic and flexible level — a lesson that I have come to understand and appreciate.

Often, our expectations of people turn into assumptions, and we eventually associate someone’s inability to meet those expectations with quick judgments about their character. I can’t tell you the amount of times I overanalyzed social situations and jumped to conclusions about people before taking into consideration what they might be going through.

In order to take care of yourself and your work environment, it’s essential to manage time and priorities. Having scattered thoughts is like a messy room that needs cleaning, tackling section by section to collect all of the clutter. Otherwise, the room feels impossible to organize and then you’ll end up procrastinating. I found it easier to write a long list of everything on my mind, anything I need to get done, and then allocating my time and energy to the tasks that truly matter.  

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” We are all so caught up in our own heads and what we have to get done next that we’re not here, taking in the present moment. We’d all be a lot kinder and thoughtful to one another if we could each manage that. 

Anita Bengert writes primarily about her perspective of 21st century America, the influence of social media and the humor behind societal flaws. Write to her at [email protected].