The Unexpected Self Evaluation

Ruth Cassell

“Professional Ruth”

With a blank page open on the bright screen, the cursor blinks and blinks and blinks.

I move the mouse to open my email, and decide to get some real work done. Amid thoughts of weekend to-dos—don’t forget to switch the laundry before it mildews—and preparations for my husband’s return home from a three-month stent overseas—the man is going to need something to eat—I open the self-evaluation I need to complete for the coming week.

I put fingers to keyboard and carefully document my job responsibilities and how I think I’m accomplishing them.

I’ve been in the new position just over 90 days. The evaluation process is welcome, if unwieldy. I appreciate my supervisor’s commitment to follow through and personnel development.

Nearing the end of the multiple page document, I come across this gem in the list of professional behavior evaluation:

Maintains healthy and appropriate boundaries: Practices direct communication; allows and encourages others to take responsibility for their own lives; does not rescue or enable others to continue with irresponsible behaviors.

A main reason I chose to leave a perfectly good job and pursue the new position as Chief Development Officer at a private non-profit mental health agency is because I want to align several areas of my life. The writer, the human and the professional inside of me need to intersect and interconnect. I hope the work can inform the craft, and both will enhance my revelry in personal growth and recovery.

As the blogger of Attention Anonymous, I first set out to create an online support space for people who struggle to set healthy boundaries and allow others to define them. As a woman, I feel I learned a great deal about myself and how I relate to the world following my divorce and I strive to expound on the experience. Personal growth is a matter of progress, not perfection, and I set new goals each step of the way. As a writer, I aim to share personal stories and relate to others. As a professional, I want to promote and support an organization I believe in.

The brief statement on maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries made all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about whether this blog is going in the right direction. Perhaps I’ve said all there is to say on this matter. Perhaps now that I’m remarried and I have written about the pain of divorce, the loss of my brother to suicide and what I’ve learned from self-help books, there’s no more say on the topic.

I hear many more heart-wrenching and soul-disturbing stories on a daily basis about real loss and real trauma. Do my continued daily experiences of learning to say no and showing others how to treat me have as much impact?

A lot of what I have come to value over the last several years comes from my emphasis on healthy boundaries and communication. I realize better now than ever what type of person (in personal and professional relationships) I’m likely to be attracted to and who I should spend my time with (and who I should run away from screaming).

With the one line in a pesky self-evaluation worksheet I have yet to complete, I feel reassured in my mission of writing what I live so I may learn and share the learning with others.

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