Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

I curate an erotic art gallery at a local alternative lifestyle club (aka swingers club).  I have always loved art – making it through photography and other medium when I was younger – and looking at it.  When I had a chance to get involved, I took it.  Then like anything else, no good deed went unpunished – and I ended up being the curator leading a group of volunteers through each show.

At first, my volunteers were great. They had energy – they did shit.  It was fabulous.

Then it wasn’t. I started doing more and more of all of the work until now, where I almost do all of it.  The split is 95% me, 5% two other people.  And I think I’m being generous by giving them the 5%.

A few weeks ago, I let the volunteers I have know that I was looking for new blood to supplement the team.  It was clear they could use a break, so I was going to give them a break.  No one balked at it – volunteer-wise anyway.  They balked at adding shows or doing anything more than what is done today which is the bare minimum on a good day.  The problem with this bare minimum is that it has a fizzle point at a certain point.  If we don’t keep doing new things – fresh things – people will, once again, stop coming to shows, etc.  Status quo can only get an event so far, so long.

I found my first new volunteer for the team. I mentioned it to my friend (partner of one of my volunteers) in a moment of “woo hoo! fresh blood!”  I was politically correct in how I worded why I was doing it. I could have said “because your partner is a lazy-ass” but didn’t.  Her reaction was a litany of reasons her partners hasn’t been more energetic about the art – and then a poor reaction to the found volunteer.

I was annoyed.  Here I was putting my needs first – and she was upset about that by acting like her partner’s needs to should be first – the excuses should be a reason for me to hold onto hope things would change for the better.  Sadly, she was not aware that her partner has lobbied for nothing to change – at all.  She was more worried about how it would look.

I was worried about what this was going to do to me, if I didn’t take care of me first.

Because the reality is, I did not sign up to do this all by myself.  I did not put this team together for the team to do nothing, while I did everything.  And I’m sick of the current status quo fucking up MY life.

Sunday, I wanted so badly to curl back up with SB and stay throughout the afternoon like is our normal Sunday. But, instead, I had to go really early because if I don’t go early and get shit done, then it means skipping dinner and working late into Sunday night to get it done. Or it means giving up Monday night. So the compromise to my team’s inability to work hard? I have to work harder which means my life gets fucked up because of them.

Taking care of me first?  How dare I???

It reminded me of what they tell you on airplanes – put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. The idea being you can’t be any good to people if you aren’t taken care of first.  And that is what annoyed me most about the reaction – I was taking care of me first vs the volunteers – and I get backlash.

At least it pissed me off versus making me feel guilty – like I was doing the wrong thing.  That’s an upside.

Besides me, I’m sick of short changing the people I love because of others not pulling their weight.

So I won’t be apologizing for putting on my own mask first.  It’s long overdue that I do that.

What do you think?