leadership: a parallel universe ago

waterhouse miranda the tempest 1916

J. W. Waterhouse; Miranda (The tempest) 1916

As an academic, assistant editor, public relations representative, I lead classes, seminars, workshops. Leading and leadership aren’t synonymous to me. Leading was an aspect of my professions. Part of the job description. Leadership was something else; it was thrust on me, in the face of tragedies, and required that I sacrifice some of myself in order to fulfill the commitment I made.

The 16 year old daughter of one of my graduate school professors, I., killed herself. I. asked me to take over his introductory lecture class and handling the teaching assistant assignments. He chose me, over other of his students, because he knew I’d do the job. With empathy and understanding. And with my heart and soul. And I did. We all survived, with personal costs. But mine seemed slight compared to the loss of a daughter by her own hand.

When my graduate school supervisor, G., died, I was unofficially his stand in. Although 2 senior professor were assigned to handle his papers, academic commitments, his students, etc., I was the one the students came to. All assumed G. & I had a kind of close personal relationship we didn’t. G. could be gruff, intimidating, demanding, and not one to say he was sorry or to give out compliments. I saw a much mellower side of him when we met to discuss things. We held mutual respect for each other. His graduate students saw him as mentor, father, confessor, tyrant. I just saw him as G. What I lost in helping others traumatized and adrift after his death, again a small price to pay for what he had done for and meant to them.

In the shadowy existence that is now, I’m not called upon to lead or have a leadership role. I get extremely anxious thinking of either as part of the current me. My leadership capabilities seem part of a parallel universe. A place I once dwelt, but moved with no forwarding address.

Written for Just Jot It January January 15: leadership. Challenge hosted by Linda G Hill on her blog, Life in Progress. Leadership was suggested by Tessa at Always A Writer

One thought on “leadership: a parallel universe ago

  1. it is strange how, there are moments, in our lives, when even as we may not necessarily want the “mantle of command” and in no way, perhaps, even feel “qualified” for it – we do as asked of us – and even though we do “sacrifice” a part of ourselves – if we can, in the here and now, look back and realize that it was an opportunity – and an accomplishment – perhaps, we can see it as a strength – hidden – that although we may not certainly wish or want in the “now” – but just “knowing” we can could perhaps be seen, not as “part of our falling down” – but as something other altogether.

    Does that even make any sense?! I’m not sure … myself. But I think I understand what you mean – that sense of “I did all of that?!” but I couldn’t certainly have done it? But I did?! And if feeling less than well – of course it is sightly baffling – but perhaps the question should turn more towards: is anyone asking anything of me now? strange how we can spin ourselves “silly” with worry when considering possibilities that aren’t even on the horizon [and yes …. I am definitely in that major ball league]


the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things . . .

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