Excuses, Excuses

Valentina DuPond, Editor-in-Chief

After a week of waking up at five a.m., sitting in classes, jotting down notes and going home to do homework until night turns to day, Saturday finally came like a sweet, sweet relief. The one day in my schedule where there were no alarm clocks or piles of homework keeping me from sleeping in all morning. 

You could imagine my frustration when a phone call came in;everything was ruined.

The obnoxious buzzing next to me on the nightstand refused to let me drift back into sleep, interrupting the morning I had been looking forward to since Monday. I let it go to voicemail once, twice. I had no other choice but to pick up the third time. 

“Hello?” I answered, still half asleep.

On the other end was my manager, a voice I wasn’t expecting to hear. I only worked on Sunday mornings and Friday nights, so why was he calling me on my one day of freedom? He seemed just as confused as I was, asking me where I was and why I wasn’t at work. 

“Did you check this week’s schedule?” he asked.

Fully awake and panicked, I sat up and checked my email, opening up this week’s assigned shifts, and to my unfortunate surprise, I found that the Saturday morning nine a.m. shift had my name next to it. I checked the time—10 a.m. 

My stomach dropped, and I instantly felt the horrifying sting of embarrassment. I wanted to hang up and hide under the covers forever. But my manager was expecting an answer, some explanation, and despite how much I wanted to avoid the conversation, I had to come clean. 

The disappointment coming from the other line was almost unbearable. After all, I was the only teenager hired to work there. They had no reason to trust me in the first place, and now I had only proven any suspicion against me valid. 

I wanted to believe that this wasn’t my fault so badly. After all, it had been them who scheduled me a day I don’t usually work. They could have given me a heads up. What if I was busy? What if I had plans? How selfish of them, not taking my Saturday morning into consideration. But these excuses didn’t hold up, not even with me. Deep down, I knew who was to blame. 

It was time to put away the excuses—I needed to hold myself accountable. 

It was a degree of accountability I had never been held up to before. I had experience with deadlines, of course; I am in high school after all. But this was so much different. While I try to get most of my homework done on time, I have to admit to turning in a few labs late, or having a few missing math worksheets here and there. But what was the harm? The worst case scenario was that my grades went down a few points, and bringing them back up was never difficult. 

Deadlines and expectations don’t transfer over the same way into the professional world. My lack of responsibility and missed deadline didn’t only affect me. 

It was a problem for me, my coworkers, my managers and even the customers. Knowing first hand how busy it could get, the thought of working an understaffed shift terrified me. It was safe to say that my manager and coworkers weren’t all too happy with me.

Not only did my lack of self-accountability affect the people I work with, but it caused damage to the professional relationship I held with my manager. He expected me to be there so that things could run smoothly, and I wasn’t there to help. It took months of showing up early to every shift before the trust that I had lost was finally regained. 

Holding ourselves accountable to deadlines may feel arbitrary in school. It’s not the end of the world if we forget to do our math homework one night. But sometimes, the repetitive nature of what feels like “busy work” can eliminate any real meaning or significance to what you’re trying to accomplish. 

Regardless of our excuses, we have to acknowledge that the deadlines established now train us for the deadlines that count in the future. If we don’t learn how to hold ourselves accountable now, we would never get anything done. While the consequences of one missing worksheet don’t extend very far, missed deadlines and a lack of accountability in our future professional lives will harm the bigger picture. Things run on schedule as a part of a larger product, and if we continue to allow ourselves to make excuses and let ourselves get away with missing work or missing shifts, everything can fall to pieces. 

One missed shift could mean double the work for the staff. One late deadline could cost the entire project. One mistake can cause trust to break and never be fully regained. 

We can make excuses, console ourselves by twisting the story to make us feel better. Accountability is always a choice, one that is always difficult to make. The world will never run out of excuses. But eventually, these excuses will only limit us from reaching our true potential, limit our relationships and cause disaster where there could have been order. 

The bottom line is, the work needs to get done. The only way to do that is to push ourselves, rise to the occasion, or admit our faults. 

So yes, I could’ve tried to make myself feel better that Saturday morning by telling myself it was their fault and rolling back to sleep. But no good would have come from it. By admitting to my mistake the next Sunday morning, I started the slow process of regaining that trust and proving I was mature and capable enough for the job. Now, I try my best to think about the bigger picture, and do my part to help the overall process. That starts with holding myself accountable—and always triple-checking the schedules.