Let’s all say it together: being an adult sucks. Okay, that is grossly exaggerated; what does suck is having to take responsibility.
There’s no escaping it no matter how hard you try. And most people try very hard indeed, passing the buck as much as they can and turning a blind eye when they should take action.
We’re all guilty of it, some more than others.
Not my problem. We’ve all said it and walked on. It doesn’t matter how small a thing it might’ve been, we’ve still done it. Someone will consider it their problem or is guilted into doing something eventually.
I find myself taking responsibility much more than I would like. I freely admit that. It’s not even a matter of paying the bills and acting like a responsible adult. It tends to be the small things, especially at work.
Somehow it’s a part of managing people, but there are many things I do that I’ve not signed up for. Our coffee machine has a milk jug. If the container isn’t emptied or at least put in the fridge so milk doesn’t go off over night, and it will, because the office is reasonably warm, then we have made yogurt and scrubbing the milk jug clean is a huge pain.
So I have made it my task to take care of that. If I’m not doing it, nobody does it. No one would even think that far unless they were the one, who’d find the yogurt in their coffee in the morning.
It’s such a small thing, but it becomes a huge deal and nobody wants to take care of it.
Or how about Saturdays at work? We usually have someone cleaning the kitchen during the day, so plates and mugs are just dumped around the sink, because someone will take care of it. I find it appalling. There’s no need to make as much of a mess as we do and not clean up after ourselves even a little bit.
On Saturdays, however, there’s no one cleaning up. Since I was in charge on the first ever Saturday that we got to work overtime, I sent an email to everyone, who was in that day, asking them to rinse their dishes and put them in the dishwasher, which I had made sure was empty.
Lo and behold, people actually did as asked. It wasn’t difficult at all.
I told the other team captains for the next Saturday to do the same and it worked again. I took charge and people listened. I’ve done this repeatedly now at work with other things as well.
If you take responsibility, you might as well do it properly.
As a team captain I get quite a bit of responsibility thrust upon me and I don’t generally enjoy it, because people are such a huge pain in the behind that it drives you up the wall. What is most unfair about this statement, though, is that only a minority of people behave like children, whereas the majority of my team is great.
Being entrusted with responsibility at work is actually a good thing. It means you’ve done a good job and are expected to keep doing a good job. I’ve proven myself, I am trusted to manage more tasks, more challenging tasks at that.
It’s especially good, if you can handle it. If you can’t, well, hand it back. Man up and admit that you can’t handle it, which in itself is taking responsibility. It’s no use, if you take on more than you can handle and do a shit job.
That goes for any kind of responsibility we can take.
You want children? Okay. Can you take care of yourself? No? Try again later. Yes? Okay, here’s a whole new human being for you, small and helpless, entirely reliant on you. Raise it for the next 18 years and continue to feel responsible for it for the rest of your life.
Big deal. Huge deal. Never forget that.
Responsibilities come in all sizes. There’s a reaction to every action, there are consequences to everything we do and we’re responsible for all of it. At least someone is responsible at any given time or point. It might be you, it might be me or my friend, or their friend or the random stranger on the tube.
There’s always somebody, who is responsible for something.
Life is hard work.
Is there a point to all of this? I don’t know, maybe. How about this: if each of us acknowledges their responsibility and is willing to share in it, maybe it doesn’t have to be so damn hard. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one, who’s capable of taking charge, of making a decision, of taking responsibility. I know I’m not.
I know there are many people, who feel the same. But all of us carry the burden of those, who don’t care and don’t think it matters and choose to be irresponsible for the rest of their lives.
That is not okay.
At the very least, each of us should take charge of their own lives and problems and take responsibility for their actions. Once we’ve all done that, maybe we can all share in the greater responsibilities that concern all of humanity and life on Earth.
There’s much to do. We’ve got to start somewhere, though, and it’s easiest to start in your own backyard.
Just don’t forget that there is a bigger picture.
We can talk about that another time.