When you fly on an airplane there is always a safety speech before takeoff. And the thing that has been ringing in my head since my last flight is, “Please secure your own mask before assisting others.”
That one sentence pretty much sums up this semester for me. Spring semester always seems a bit harried, and this semester is no exception. I’m not getting things done in as timely a fashion as I would like. I’m a little overextended and feel like I’m focused a lot more on caring for others than making sure I’m ok myself. But a conversation with a student last week made me revisit a tip on this theme that I wrote a couple of years ago. I need to stop and secure my own mask before I can assist others. You simply can’t effectively help others if you are in risk of not keeping yourself going.
The “secure your own mask” bit also hits close to home in a different way when it comes to charitable giving. I’m sure I’m not the only person who hears the phone ring, sees the number of their alma mater, and lets it go to voice mail. I know they are looking for a donation. Sometimes it seems like every charity I’ve ever donated to is reaching out for a contribution at the same time. And I want to assist others. But my husband and I have some medical issues that are challenging financially. So rather than stretching myself to assist others as much as I would like, I smile, politely said no (or agree to only a tiny amount) and proceed with securing my own financial mask. It won’t be this way every year. And it’s ok to say no to charities if you’re not feeling particularly financially secure yourself. It comes back around when things are steadier financially.
I am hopeful that summer will unfold differently for me. But it’s only because I’m taking steps to secure my own mask first. Then I can proceed with assisting others.