I was at the gym recently and a woman walked in to the restroom/locker room with her personal trainer. She looked around and commented that all the stalls were taken. The trainer who is a gym employee said “Sometimes people close the doors and you can’t tell if anyone is really in them or not.” So the lady proceeded to open one of the stall doors and walked in on someone. Immediately following the embarassing moment the trainer said “I meant for you to knock.” The woman’s reply to this was “Well, she should have locked the door.” The whole situation reminded me about the topic of taking responsibility.
I used to blame other people and circumstances for almost everything that happened to me. When I was in college I wanted to be an English major, with the idea that I would teach and also write. I took the first class required for that major and I started out shakily. The professor set up a meeting with me and suggested I drop the class. I took her advice, no questions asked and eventually chose a different major. I always blamed her for my failure. If it wasn’t for that professor I would have gotten an English degree. In reality, I was the only one responsible. That moment was a test and I could have reacted a lot of other ways. I could have worked harder and proved myself to her, but instead I let her be the one to squash my dreams.
In my last teaching job, I taught in an open classroom setting (which means 4 teachers shared one huge classroom with shelves dividing our spaces) with veteran teachers. I didn’t exactly mesh with the other ladies. I wasn’t as strict or organized as they were and it made things very difficult. I’d go home crying that if only they liked me more or didn’t expect me to be just like them I would enjoy my job. By the end I had even decided they were plotting against me. I never took responsibility for any of it. I never made real changes or tried to improve. I never even stopped to ask the real question of why teaching was such a struggle for me. I just decided that the next job would be better because I’d be at a different school with different co-workers. It was all their fault. (Of course, now I don’t really plan to go back to teaching.)
These days I take responsibility for everything. When I am happy it’s because I choose to be happy and not because someone or something has made me that way. If I am anxious or fearful I know it is because I am creating that by not being present and having faith. When I am faced with a challenge, I have choices to make and it is my decision that creates my future, not what happens outside of me. If I walk in on someone sitting on the toilet, it’s because I forgot to knock…not because they forgot to lock the door. There is power in responsibility!