I thought I would finish Mental Health Break with a field report from the other side of librarianship: the side where one is not a librarian at all. I recently described myself as an “information professional at large,” and with 12.8 million Americans out of work last month, I can’t be the only one. However, filling out application after application that asks, “Name?,” eventually leads to “Who am I?,” and then to “I am alone” more often than I care to admit.
Aside from the monotony of applications, the guilt I assign myself for having lost my job (and increasingly, for not being a Stepford Wife while I’m at home all day), and the sheer boredom, the hardest part of unemployment that I am in total control to fix is this nagging feeling of wasted time because I am not in the career that I went to school so many times to realize. Did I really believe that I would prevent any sort of unpleasant employment situation, or that I would always be doing precisely what I set out to do? Did I think that there wouldn’t be down time?
I’m willing to blame youthful ignorance, willful ignorance, sheer stupidity, gross misinterpretation of the brand of feminism with which I’ve surrounded myself, whatever. I need to get over it. There is more to me than being a law librarian. I am in total control to fix monotony, guilt, and boredom, too, but here are my new efforts to stop feeling like a wasted effort that you can try too:
- Plan projects that you would never be able to/allowed to do at work. I’m typing away on my social media consulting materials, thinking of how to fund, then digitize stuff for fun and no profit, and thinking of dipping my toe into a for real academic article.
- Go out and visit related institutions. I live in a big city full of libraries, and I’ve been to practically none. You can always learn from what someone else is doing, even without making a big formal tour of it. Just go in as a user, see what happens.
- Go out and visit not at all related institutions. Libraries aren’t just libraries anymore. Go to museums, factories, start up offices, print media houses, coffee shops. There’s a lesson to be learned everywhere, which is terribly convenient as libraries now have to do everything.
- Embrace your pre-graduate education. You learned to color inside the lines at one point, right? Have you colored recently? No?? Well, there you have it. If you’re really feeling ambitious, go and do that with people who are learning it for the first time, share your experience, and don’t forget to mention that coloring outside the lines is way more fun
Today, I am going to the beach. I’ve granted myself a one day break from applications and house work, and I’m going to read my September Vogue under a big, fabulous hat, and sketch sea birds. If I were at work, I couldn’t do any of these things on a Wednesday. But today, instead of lamenting my unemployment, I’m going to try and make the most of it.