Now that I’m starting my 3rd year on the tenure track, I have finally figured out how to fulfill service obligations in a way that isn’t a waste of time and is actually fun. I managed to get elected to the university-wide Research and Development committee that distributes $375,000 in research grant money each year to scholars at our university. This way, I will see many grant proposals and learn what makes an outstanding proposal. This is a very valuable committee that everybody wants to be on because it does real work. It isn’t just some mindless paper-pushing. This is really crucial work that will benefit our entire university.
So now I’m on one College of Arts and Sciences committee (that also does really fun, important work) and this university-level committee. They both only occupy one’s time during the Fall semester and leave you completely free (yet still on the committee lists) in spring and summer. Nobody can possibly ask me to do any more service than this, and I’m really enjoying myself in the meanwhile.
And don’t think this was easy. I had to resist certain amount of pressure to assume other, boring, useless and time-consuming service obligations while I was waiting for these two fun committees to open.
The moral of the story: it’s sometimes hard for young scholars to resist the pressure and they end up being pushed into way too many service assignments. However, we have to remember that everything we do has do benefit us in the long run. The person who will come out winning is the one who is the least prone to allowing senior colleagues to guilt trip her into doing things she doesn’t feel like.
Being autistic really helps because it liberates you from wondering if people will still like you if you keep saying “no.”