Speak Up for Yourself

In the past week I’ve had two very different experiences that turned out unexpectedly well and I was pleasantly surprised, I also learned a little something about myself. So I thought I’d share them with you.

Getting Things I Want

I finally had a meeting about my end of season report, it’s a pretty extensive report and I always make a lot of recommendations in it that I think will improve our program.

Now, as I mentioned in my wish list post I think it’s important to make sure that you’re making others aware of what you want/ need for your program just in case they’re willing to give it to you but I never expect to get everything I ask for… at least, not right away.

So I went into my meeting thinking that I would get about half of the stuff I had highlighted as a priority, and I expected one of the recommendations to be greeted with a hard “no”.

This was something that would actually improve camper and staff experience, but would cost us a few bucks, and when your program has a tight budget, you expect anything that will cost a few bucks to be shot down pretty quickly.

Turns out I got about 85% of the things I recommended, and another 10% were tabled to be revisited in the new year.

The thing I expected a hard “no” on?

That got the green light… and it was SO easy!!

I explained why I thought it was important and how much it would cost and Mr. Big Boss Man said “hmm… makes sense to me, if you think it will make a difference, let’s to it.”

You guys, I was expecting so much more of a discussion, I had rebuttal arguments all lined up… I was thrown when it was a quick and easy decision. I thought I was going to have to fight for this, then have it be turned down and have to fight for it again later.

I responded with “oh… okay… well, great… let’s move on!” I took all of my willpower not to do a fist pump DJ Tanner style!
(If you don’t know what I’m referring to, please find Full House on Netflix and watch it immediately!)

Getting Paid For My Time

The other experience I had was weirder and a little more nerve wracking for me…
I’ve taken a part-time job in a retail store for the holidays (because apparently I have something against free time!! haha) anyway, I worked in retail for years while I was in school and while I was working at camp seasonally, but it’s been a while since I’ve been paid an hourly rate.
I worked the closing shift the other night with a shift leader and another sales associate, the store closes at 9:30 but for whatever reason the shift leader was taking a while to get everything closed up. We ended up getting out of there at 9:55pm.
The next day I showed up for my shift and noticed that none of our hours had been changed on the schedule.
So I had a decision to make, let it go and essentially volunteer half an hour of my time to the store, or mention it to the manager and get paid for my time. Seems like an easy decision doesn’t it? Weirdly enough, it wasn’t.
I struggled.

I guess in many ways I’m a product of society’s weird gender norms or whatever but I knew that the manager only gets a certain number of hours and that I might be perceived as obnoxious or pushy for ‘demanding’ that I get paid for that extra half hour.
When I was 18 I would have just let it go, and given away my time just so I wasn’t perceived as demanding or pushy.
But I gave myself a pep talk and told myself

“You are a grown a$$ adult!!
If you don’t value your time, no one else will.Tweet That
Your time is worth something, make sure they know that.”
(ok less pep talk, more scolding, but it worked)

Anyway, long story, (not so) short, I let them know that we worked late, and that I’d like that to be reflected in the schedule.

They were great about it (although they did mention that there are a set amount of hours they can give out in a week) and wondered why the shift leader didn’t let anybody know.

I suspect that she probably has the same weird hang-up as me and so many other women (and men?) that she’s worried she’s going to put somebody out by asking for what she deserves.


Photo credit: spcbrass / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Here’s the weird thing.

I have no problem speaking up on behalf of my campers or staff.

I have gone to bat for them over and over, I have pushed and fought to get the things that will make their experience better. I will ask nicely first, and if that doesn’t work, I will push, hard.

Even if I don’t think it’s something I’m going to get, I will keep demanding it until they eventually see things my way.
But that’s for other people.
I am super uncomfortable doing the same thing for myself. It’s not that I don’t think I’m worth it, I know I am, it’s just that it’s so much harder to advocate for myself than it is for other people.

If the asst. manager had said “nope, sorry. Can’t give you that extra half hour.” I honestly don’t know how I would have reacted.

I might have pointed out that if I had been a half hour late, I wouldn’t get paid for it, so working a half hour more should be treated the same way.

But I think that’s as far as I would have gone.
I wouldn’t have pushed or fought or demanded that they value my time.

So, I guess the point of all of this is that this was yet another learning experience, I’m proud of myself for asking for what I deserve (I mean, let’s be real, half an hour at a min wage job is like, 5 bucks… it was so not about the money but it was the principle of the thing, ya know?) and I’m going to try to apply the same logic and tactics when I’m advocating for myself as I when I advocate for my campers and staff. (Meaning, I’m going to START advocating for myself…)
Who knows, maybe I’ll even ask for a raise… which is entirely another post for another day.

What do you think? Is it easier for you to fight on other people’s behalf than it is to fight for yourself? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to ask someone to value your time/ work? I’d love to hear about it, and how it went.

Categories: New Camp Director Pro Tip | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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