This is a blog post from Pete Mosq on FetLife
Let me start this by saying that I have a tremendous amount of respect for those people who choose to serve our community. Board and committee members, Event Chairs and Staffers, Presenters and Teachers, and anyone else who gives the gift of their time and energy.
There’s usually not a gathering I go to where someone doesn’t pull me aside and ask/rant/bitch about the current state of TES. I am not intimately involved with the governance of the organization at this point but will always consider it my ‘home.’ People are often surprised when I talk about my five years on the board with mostly positive things to share. How could that possibly be?
Being on the board for me was really like any other job. There were days when it was the greatest thing in the world, and others when it stunk to high heaven. The former greatly outweighed the latter, so it remains in my mind as a mostly positive experience. I try not to look at the past through ‘rose colored glasses’, so to speak but that’s the truth. There were conflicts, and there were issues of course, and I handled them with as much grace as I could, as I do the other things in my life. I performed a variety of functions while I was at TES, programming, operations, and other things. I generally helped out wherever needed, because that’s just what you do. I did my best to properly and efficiently perform whatever task I took on. Sometimes I did well, other times not so much, but always gave my best efforts and I wasn’t afraid to ask for help when I needed it.
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I really don’t think it’s that hard. When you say you are gonna do something, you do it. When you can’t do something, you say something so someone else can pick up the slack and keep going. That last one is one of the hardest things to do because it brings with it the feeling of failure for some of us. But honestly, when the job gets done, nobody fails.
At the best of times, two needs will be served, your own personal needs and the needs of the organization/event/community. That’s when everybody wins.
I am extremely grateful to TES for the opportunities for socialization and personal growth that being on the board afforded me. It was truly a life changing experience that I treasure, At the end of my service, things in the organization had changed as had things in my personal life and when it was time to go, I left without any regrets. Mostly. ;)
The organization goes on without me as well it should. That’s the hardest thing to admit to oneself, That no matter how good you do a task, lead a group, teach a class or etc, when you can’t or won’t do it anymore, someone else will. They might even do it better than you, and you know what? That’s fucking great!
I see the new board members come in every year and remember what it was like when I ‘got the reins’ so to speak. They will all do things their way, and those of us who came before will offer advice and support but that’s all we can do. It’s their job now. As it should be. Whenever you step up to serve the community, you should strongly examine your motives and needs so the expectations and results will mirror each other as much as possible.
When I ran for the board again two years ago, I did so for many of the wrong reasons (even if I didn’t realize it at the time) and subsequently it wasn’t a fit. Wasn’t my fault, wasn’t theirs, it’s just the way it was. Coincidentally, a series of events required my pulling away from the scene, so I bowed out as gracefully as I could. Once again with no regrets.
There’s nothing wrong with putting the other needs in your life ahead of your volunteer responsibilities. It shows someone with a sense of their own priorities in line and will actually make you more conscientious when others need to do the same. I have always said that what we do here is nice, it’s wonderful and fantastic, but at the end of the day isn’t that important. What is important? Your health. Your family (bio and/or chosen). Your job or career (the one that pays your bills). Your life.
To all those who have served and all those who will, I thank you. I know what it’s like to sit in that seat. It’s a real special place.