Monday, September 10, 2012

Keeping Up With the Marians

Professional Lesson of the Day: In Librarianship, we don't try to keep up with the Joneses. We try to keep up with the Marians--as in, Marian the Librarian.

During the summer of 2004, right before I moved away to the Midwest and grad school and real life, I was working for an accountant. Part of my job consisted of digitally scanning and archiving files, and that required a certain amount of waiting as the computer and copier and network did their things. While I waited, I would sit at my desk, which faced a blank white wall, and I would imagine my future life in Indiana, in grad school. And beyond that...well, my imagination hit a brick wall. Or, more accurately, my imagination hit a blank white wall. My future beyond the pleasures and adventures of grad school seemed not uncertain, as such. But more like empty and insignificant and unremarkable. Just a blank white wall.

Eight years later, and I'm well into that blank wall. I wish I could say that I am scaling that wall, but I'm not. I feel like I have become the wall.

Oddly, this isn't usually a bad thing. My life is more full and rewarding than I had ever imagined it could be. I help people, I try to make people laugh, on a good day, I share books and optimism and hard work all around.

But recently, I've begun to look beyond my wall and the immediate vicinity. One of my colleagues is pursuing his second Master's in Computer Science. Another of my colleagues relentlessly pursues professional development opportunities, and I just found out today that she's publishing a book of professional development.And then of course, there's Ezz and the Sooz and Abby, back East, who just go from strength to strength. And I wonder, should I be doing that? Publishing, sitting on committees, writing reviews, becoming a supervisor, getting another degree?

I brought this up to one of my colleagues today at lunch, over an incredibly healthy meal of bacon cheeseburgers. She and I discussed all sorts of possibilities: learning conversational Spanish, getting a A.S. degree in Computer Networking, getting a certification in Proofreading/Editing, or even sitting for the LSAT, just to see if I could do it. Each sentence we came up with was something along the lines of "I should do..."

It's all in that word, "should." It provides an infinite number of implied expectations, guilts, and burdens. Should versus want. Do I genuinely, truly want to do any of these things? Or do I simply feel like I should, because I need to keep up with the Marians?

I can't do anything until I figure that out.