It seems every so often I come across a blog post like this one from ACRLog about finding a successful work/life balance. This is not unique to libraries. I think it’s just part of being an adult with a job.
Veronica Wells’ suggestions are basically: Leave work at work. Find something else to be passionate about besides work. Be good to yourself.
It’s pretty simple, right? Well if it was that easy, everybody would be doing it. (Painfully obvious.)
I totally understand why librarians (or transportation professionals… or anybody) has a hard time with this. We spend years in schooling and preparation for our careers. The only way you can really get it done without losing yourself is to either be anchored in other things (hobbies) or really love it. So you become passionate about your field and that’s what takes up your mental head space.
Then you burn out. What next? If you don’t really have the anchor, it’s rougher because you sort of became your career and profession. Like what if you lose your job? I’ve been working through a lot of professional ennui lately, which hasn’t been pleasant but it has helped me remember who I am.
I am not a librarian. I am Kendra.
Kendra is a librarian… but that’s really reductive. I could easily say I’m a bass player or a left back, both of which could probably describe my personality as well as librarian.
The joys of social networks is that I see a lot of my library friends struggling with this, so I know I’m not alone. I do sometimes want to shake them and say, “It’s just a job! Put down your iPad/phone/laptop and go enjoy yourself!” Of course, that’s not going to work. Lots of people can’t shut off. I’ve grown to accept that. See… my balance is not your balance. The only time I might say, “Hey, you need to improve your balance…” is when I get the sense the lack of balance is making you miserable.
If you’re miserable do something else. That’s the beauty of free will. Boundaries can be difficult but really are worth it. Especially in libraries where the pay is usually not great, the piles of work high, and the stakes relatively low. (See yesterday’s post.)
So me? I shut off. I check my email after hours and will do small things as needed, but I’m not going to worry as much. I can’t, I have band practice tonight. (So we can sound decent.) I’m not going to lose myself to the profession and I think that’s totally fine.
(I totally get the irony of this post… believe me. I rolled my eyes at myself for you.)