Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Other Words that Don't Have an "I"

When I was in middle school - high school, there was suddenly (from my perspective) a big push to get us to work cooperatively. It was all "group work" this and "group project" that. And write a research paper with a partner. WTP (What the pants, FYI).

Here's the thing, I always sucked at group work. For one simple reason - I don't trust you. It doesn't matter who you are. Maybe you are Michael R., our valedictorian and generally the smartest guy I ever met. Maybe you are Susan (my HS best friend and probably the smartest chick I ever met). Perhaps you are a freakin' Spanish exchange student and the project is for Spanish 101. I still don't trust you.

I would casually accept the break-down of activities and project pieces and then I'd just do the whole thing. Perhaps quietly and without telling you (because you know, I don't want to hurt your feelings just because I don't trust you), but I would do it all. Which meant that my part wasn't as good as it should be, because I'd done the whole thing.

Then, my theory went, if you did your own work, I'd be pleasantly surprised. If not, I'd be well prepared to save the day and my ever-important A.

Of all the things that I was told in high school would help prepare me for life, I can honestly say most of them were lies. I don't even remember what sine and cosine are now, let alone how to use them. I had to google how to figure out he area of a circle twice in the recent past. I've never needed to know where a fetal pig keeps its spleen. Or even if it has a spleen. Who knows? Someone currently in AP Biology, that's who. I've retained a great deal of English and Communications stuff, but more because I like it than because knowing what philosophically separated romantic writers from neoclassical ones comes up a bunch in conversation.

The two things that I truly need as an adult were as follows:

  • Reading critically and writing well will always be an asset and will never be wasted - True Dat.
  • Group projects prepare you for working in the real world. Abso - what?!? Really?
I've thankfully outgrown the need to do a job from beginning to end all on my own, but there are still quite a few areas where I could use improvement here. I don't ask for help well. I don't hire help well. I don't train people well. And, most importantly, I'd rather just do it myself. 

Because, wait for it... I still don't trust you. I trust you more, now, because you're getting paid and I trust that your appreciation of money is at least similar to my appreciation of big red shiny A's. (My appreciation for money wanes every time I read some sorry typo-ridden excuse for a resume for our CEO position.) Therefore, I won't try to do your work for you. But I will still never, ever ask you to help me with my work. Because I'm a horrible, awful control freak of doom.

Because I want to do and be the best at everything.

Because I want people to believe that I am Super Man. 

Because I hate to rely on anyone else.

But mostly,

Because I don't trust you.

And I'm pretty sure that means that something is terribly wrong with me.


Suze said...

I hated, hated, hated group work for the same reasons you did. I didn't trust anyone either.
I just read this book called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop talking". In it, the author discusses quite a lot the way group work is so heavily emphasized in schools and workplaces (esp corporate workplaces) and why that is NOT a good thing. So you are right in not trusting anyone!
Also, why did you need to know the area of a circle recently? Curious.

Joni said...

No wonder we were such good friends in high school! We had the same obsession with good grades, the same distrust for the folks we were put in groups with (I didn't think they were dumb or couldn't do the work, but I did know they didn't care as much as I did, so I knew they wouldn't do as good a job.), AND we weren't in the same grade so we never had to work together on a project! Recipe for BFF's. ;) My dislike for group projects lasted well through college. And honestly, still stands today. I'm not an introvert, but I AM a perfectionist.

Jessi said...

Suze - Over-achievers Unite! I'm glad to hear that there is some research backing up my total lack of trust in my fellow man. Re: Circles - I don't remember why I did it the first time, it seems like we were moving something... Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, I was trying to help D figure out how much sand to buy to make a place for his new pool and I had to look it up again, and I thought - I should have remembered that, I just looked it up!

Joni - I never thought I was the smartest, but I never wanted to fail because of someone else, you know. If I got a bad grade, I wanted it to be my fault, so I could control it next time. Giving up part of your control over your own success is really hard.