Memoirs of a Saudi Ph.D. student: The art of stepping back

By : Htoon Kadi

I have always believed that women are excellent at multitasking. It is amazing how they manage to cook, feed a baby, talk on the phone and watch television at the same time with much ease. I loathe those who argue, “But men are creative and more devoted, come and see how many celebrity chefs, fashion designers, makeup artists etc. are there.”

I would say that although they might have excelled in one area but the celebrity chef might end up cooking leaving the kitchen in a complete mess. Not only that he would literally hang in there and would not be able to do anything else. OK, I know I sound a bit overdramatic men-hating feminist. I feel like writing all this because due to my multitasking skills, I had to give up something I really liked.

Last September, I received an e-mail calling on interested people to file nominations for “school representatives.” It’s a voluntary position that serves as an intermediary channel within the social science faculty — coordinating between different departments.

On receiving the e-mail, I had an adrenaline rush and I imagined myself walking between offices receiving students’ complaints and suggestions. In my imaginations I saw myself fighting for the school and insisting on providing all the researchers with new computers and free coffee and snacks followed by lunch. OK, I went a bit too far and to cut the long story short, I really wanted to make a difference and represent my school the way it deserved.

Following the permission from my supervisor, I sent across the nomination and thereafter appointed as the school representative.

I started my new role full of enthusiasm and I used to attend all meetings and in all of them I was a very active member and I used to suggest and participate a lot, until about 3 months ago. I entered a very crucial phase of my Ph.D., which demanded of me to spend more time on my research. I never expected this phase to be so demanding. In addition to my studies, I also write and produce my YouTube show and above all I am a mother of two school-going children.

Of course, as a natural consequence my work as the school representative started to suffer. I could not respond to e-mails on time and started skipping meetings without giving prior notice. Honestly, I got so busy that I did not even know, at times, when the meeting would be held. During that same period, an event was organized titled “Faculty Forum.” Initially, I remained very active and even helped in suggesting the theme and participants but unfortunately due to busy schedule I could not attend the event.

I just kept telling myself, “It’s OK everyone skips one meeting or the other sometime. It’s OK, at least you are better than others who attend meetings but do not participate.” I kept on coming up with excuses until I realized that things were working neither for me nor for my school. I realized that I was fooling myself and being multitasking woman did not mean tasks would not collide. They might not only collide but they might cause disasters. I then decided that it was time to step back and call it off. I e-mailed the head of the Faculty Forum and informed him that due to my poor performance lately, I wish to withdraw and I hope that this position will be filled by someone who can really work with commitment for the forum.

Stepping back and being honest with oneself is not a sign of weakness, it’s a form of strength to accept our weaknesses and limitations as human beings, and what I used to do was not admitting my limitations which resulted in me pushing myself to the extreme limit with a poor performance.

“Stepping back at the right time,” is an art we all need to master.






How can SME growth in the Kingdom be unlocked?
Waiting for our team to win World Cup
%d bloggers like this:
Powered by : © 2014 Systron Micronix :: Leaders in Web Hosting. All rights reserved

| About Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Disclaimer | Contact Us |