Letting go of titles..
When I started grad school my end objective was one that every student strives for.. finding an epic job. I wanted the title and the ability to work with children and teens in a really great library setting. Being a official Librarian was a huge goal for me. So, after graduation I hit the job search as hard as I could, determined to find the perfect fit. Unfortunately, life threw a pretty big curve ball into the mix with a surgery that took me out of the hunt for 4 months.
A few months after recovery I found it. The perfect job with the perfect title and duties. Luckily I got it.
Youth Services Librarian… Yeah, it was awesome!
I had made it into the world of Library folk. I was going to do big and wonderful things. I could add that title to my resume and FB profile. I was a real Librarian! I just forgot one small thing.. Titles aren’t everything. Especially when you refuse to acknowledge your limitations.
I often joke with my parents that if they had had more kids I wouldn’t have ended up with all the defective genes. My health is not the greatest and not the worst. It hovers right smack dab in the middle with a slight lean to the left that keeps me from running any marathons. It also has limited my employment status more than I care to admit. So, after the big surgery that was supposed to fix everything; I was extremely optimistic that I had finally overcome and could move into full time employment status. I ignored my Doctors recommendations and pretty much decided that I was going to do it all no matter what.
Yeah.. bad idea. Six months into my full time job my body pretty much gave up. I was in the middle of the Summer Reading program at our library when it all fell apart. If you have ever done SRP in a public library you know that it takes Herculean strength at times to get through the day. It is not just busy, it is manic. Don’t get me wrong.. it is also really fun. But you need a decent immune system to help you through it.
I ended up in the Doctor’s office with more tests and the recommendation that I go part-time before I got to the point where I would (and I quote my very serious Doctor) “never work again.” Whoa.. wait? Never work again? Give up my full time job? Are you kidding me?? Yep, kids she was very serious. I was very stubborn. I didn’t want to give it up. Wouldn’t that mean I was a failure? That I couldn’t hack it as a Librarian?
Thankfully, I am blessed with a super supportive Mister and great friends who gave me wonderful advice. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but they said it anyway and I finally listened. But, it was still hard. I loved being a Youth Services Librarian. I felt like I had finally made it in life. My whole focus was on success and my silly job title. Yep.. obsessed with a title. Kinda sad right? I could delve into the cultural influence and yada, yada, blah, blah.. But I won’t. It was my own silly notion that I couldn’t be successful unless I was a full time employee that got me in that place.
After weeks of mulling it over and lots of whining that I am not proud of at all; I decided enough was enough. I walked in and sat down with my bosses and tearfully we all discussed my options. I am very blessed to work with compassionate people who don’t just see it’s employees as a means to an end. We found a solution and I walked away feeling more relief that I ever imagined.
I gave it up.. That silly title and the notion that I couldn’t be a real librarian without it. I chose my health and my future over business cards and a sense of superiority. It was hard. Holy wow was it hard. But, let me tell you how much better my journey is because of it.
A part-time Teen position opened up soon after and I am happy to say that I got it. I also really wanted the job. I love Teens. They are so much fun to work with and provide a way different dynamic than working with the little guys. They are wacky, funny, challenging, and pretty amazing even when they are difficult. This is where I needed to be. I feel at home in my skin and in my job. The title… who cares! I am still a Librarian who can make a difference.
With this came an attitude shift that needed to happen. I have stopped worrying about my resume and my accomplishments. I now know that it’s about the patrons and serving them to the best of my ability. I couldn’t do that when I was sick and miserable. Now, I am joyfully looking forward to my days and what new things I can do for the teens and our library to make it a better place. Yes, there are still stresses and not enough time in a day but it’s manageable. I love it!
Maybe someday I can do full time again or maybe I won’t. I know that being a librarian is not limited to what or how you work. It is a ingrained ability that is always there even if it is not on your name badge. I am more that the sum of my parts, abilities, or lack there of. The future is shiny thing that I can’t wait to discover each each week when I walk into the library doors.