Your Achievements Are Just That: Yours. 23 January 2021

Woman points to herself, standing next to a clock that says "Ich" ("I") in German

As you may or may not recall, in March 2020, New Zealand went relatively quickly into a nationwide lockdown to help significantly slow, or stop, the COVID-19 pandemic from expanding inside our country.

I saw the writing on the wall a few weeks earlier after seeing the news about the pandemic emerging from my homeland, the United States, and hearing from my family how things were deteriorating there. So I decided to start researching online learning platforms for The Place Where I Work, discovering what options were out there, and making a decision on an online learning platform I felt comfortable with working on and developing for our students. About a week before the New Zealand Government even made a call to shut the country down, I was using every spare bit of time I had — during work, after work, weekends — in building up the new online learning platform, migrating as much information and learning as I could move to it, and populating the various areas as much as I could to make it look less skeleton-y and more meaty.

And then, within a matter of a few hours, we went from independently making the call to migrate totally to online learning for our students’ safety to the Government announcing they were shutting the country down completely for a lockdown a few days later.

I spent about 25 days straight, working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, getting that platform ready and going. While I did get a few days break during and mostly after that — including my birthday (which felt fuck-all like my birthday because I was depressed and tired and stressed-out and over-worked) and Easter — there was still a lot of work to do, so I spent my time continuing to make sure the students’ learning was as uninterrupted and seamless as I possibly could without teaching them.

Despite all that hard work, no one really seemed to appreciate it. We got to mid-year graduation, and no one said anything except our CEO, who said something short in passing. So short, in fact, if you sneezed, you would have missed it.

I was really, really, really hurt by the underappreciation.

I could have dropped dead from all the exhaustion from working so hard to make sure we all had our jobs and all of our students remained active in learning, and it felt like they would have stepped over my body, my blood cooling and congealing in my veins, and no one would have given a solid fuck.

I did get vocal about my feelings about being underappreciated.

I didn’t get as vocal as I should have gotten about my feelings about being underappreciated.

Lesson learned.

In the last team meeting in 2020, we started speaking about the lockdown and what impact it had on the school and each of us. One of my colleagues stated she had had “nothing to do” and it had been “boring”. I piped up and responded sarcastically that she could’ve taken some of my work off of me because I’d been swamped and I would’ve appreciated having “nothing to do”. Point made.

Back to mid-2020: despite working through the April school holidays (which I had been led to believe all of my colleagues had done too, and perhaps by that statement my colleague made at the last team meeting of 2020, I’d been hopefully naive about that) and being the only team member who worked through most of the December 2019 / January 2020 school holidays due to trying to fill our classes for a February 2020 start, I didn’t get much of a break for the July school holidays either.

No, I spent that working on the (normal) application for 2021 funding plus an additional (very time-consuming, very resource-consuming) application for more funding in 2021. (If you want to read the whole story behind that, you can read that in my blog entry “Success After a Long Time Trying“.) I got no help from any of my colleagues. As I am not the greatest at dealing with money, finances, or anything remotely linked to math, I felt very much out of my depth.

Yeah, no one really cared.

Fast forward to December 2020. The school closed for the holidays at noon on Friday, 18 December 2020. By 23 December 2020, we heard from the Tertiary Education Commission that the reconsideration of my initially failed application for more funding in 2021 was successful. This increased the school’s subsidy funding by 140% (an increase of around $261,000 a year) to around $925,000 per year, which, for us, was a considerable increase. Big pat on my back.

Several days later, in a conversation with mutual friends, one of my colleagues started talking about how “we” accomplished this feat. How “we” managed to increase the school’s funding by a huge amount between 2020 and 2021 due to “our” hard work.

I was angry. A pre-depersonalized me would have stewed internally about that, bit my tongue, but kept quiet to keep the peace.

Post-depersonalized Scott, with a shit-load of counselling under his belt, blurted out: “I accomplished that. I managed to get the school’s additional funding due to my hard work. No one else did anything to help. No one.”

There was an odd silence, but there also was no challenge to my statements. Because I was right.

So don’t let other people take credit for your accomplishments if you yourself did all the hard work.

Don’t let co-workers try to co-opt themselves in a revision of the truth of the matter.

You worked hard. You deserve to be recognised for that hard work.

If no one will stand up for you — and that happens quite a lot — take the lead, and stand up for yourself.

Speak up, and be proud of your accomplishments.