Rational vs. Irrational Planning / How I became a Librarian in the first place

I’m trying to make rational plans regarding the fact that I am about to, once again, face a big jump into the great unknown. Now when I say this I mean I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to leave the public once and for all. However, the fact that my small two days a week here basically pays my rent every month is not to be ignored. I remember this feeling, during my first year of grad school, let’s flash back to 2011. (The story of how I became a librarian in the first place).

In 2011 I was working a miserable job in real estate that often left me in tears at the end of the day, which was, what led me to going back to school in the first place. I was doing well in my first year of grad school, but it was hard to juggle working full time and doing a part-time load online through the University. On top of all that I was in a lousy relationship living with somebody who really wasn’t very motivated in any facet of his own life, and frankly, somebody I had no interest in spending my future with. I had been applying for jobs in the library world, all jobs that I could find, and getting rejection letter after rejection letter, after rejection letter.

I was stuck. I spent my days frustrated, angry, irritable, and somewhat hopeless while I plundered on doing all those things daily that I knew were slowly killing me inside. I wanted to do an internship which I felt was so important, since I had no prior library experience, but I couldn’t with my 9-5 M-F gig in hell. So, I kept on, saved all I could, worked my butt off and gave myself enough of a nest egg so that I felt comfortable for a bit launching off into the great unknown (with the backup of student loans if need be), AKA leaving my job without another lined up. In February of 2012, I cut the cord, and celebrated.

Many people in my life told me this was stupid. I even felt like I was a bit stupid myself, but I just knew that I needed to do it. It had never felt so good in my entire life to put in that letter of resignation, I felt so free and hopeful and full of opportunities.

But, my smile didn’t last too long.

It was hard to get a job, very hard in fact. What was nice about it is that I at least had a partner that paid half of the rent. This helped quite a bit and may have been one of the reasons we (both) stayed in a bad relationship for as long as we did. The first summer and fall seemed OK. I enjoyed taking my time with my school work, really absorbing it, being present with my studies, which is what I really wanted in the first place. I got to do an internship in an archive which I am so thankful for.  I eventually found a very small PT gig at (of all places) a synagogue, where I made very little money and even less friends. I kept trying and trying, time went on, I watched my nest egg decrease and man do piles of money burn fast.

Luckily, as the synagogue became less and less of a good gig, I landed a PT job at the public in 2013 (where I am typing this from today, the very seat I started in almost 5 years ago) and I could leave the synagogue and work at the public part time only. Things seemed to be looking up, my coursework was going well, and I was getting actual real life public library experience.

Until I got left suddenly and very out-of-the-blue like by that boyfriend. Now, getting left sucks in and of itself, but the bigger devastation for me here lay in losing half of my rent and household expenses. Sounds like a shitty thing to say, but it’s true. Sometimes in adult land we rely on partners for more than just emotional payments. Things descended a bit from there, yeah, they got a bit dark. I remember a specific night where the cat and I went tumbling upside down when I rolled to the side of the Walmart futon and the weight made it topple over, that may have been the rock bottom. I laughed until I cried in my half-empty apartment. It was quite the ride. I kept on with school, kept my head up, and just tried to make it through living on the tightest of budgets but somehow always squeaking by. That was what 30 looked like for me.

More things happened, more changes. I landed a second part time gig at the U in 2015 where I still am today. I gained another relationship that I had high hopes for, then lost it. I had what was close to an emotional breakdown somewhere in there and began therapy and trying to heal myself. I broke addictions, gained knowledge really dug deep down in there and faced some of those demons I had been carrying around for way too long. (That’s wildly oversimplifying it, but I don’t need to bore you with all those details.)

Through it all I was working 6 days a week, and juggling so many new roles looking back I have no idea how I didn’t completely lose it, but I didn’t. Let me tell you, working six days a week when you live on your own and should do all the house things and try to relax on that ONE day, really catches up to you after 3 years of doing it.

If you follow me at all you will know that I’ve had a lot of failure in the library world these last 3 years, most of them very unforeseen. But it’s also reconnected me to writing, which I’ve been trying to push myself to do these last couple of years. Baby steps are still steps you know, they count.

Now I’m at another crossroads, that is pretty similar to the one I had 6 years ago.  I’m spent. Like totally spent, and I need to take time and focus on things that can move me forward, and open doors for me. I have 3 things. Public, University and Writing.  Out of these 3 the public has become a bit of a dead rot. I can’t move forward in my position, and I no longer find much happiness in being here. Worse, it takes up so much of my time that I have no energy to spend looking for other jobs in either writing or library capacities. I feel like I must let it go. But, this means that I literally will only be making enough money with the one job to feed myself very frugally after bills are paid, and god forbid any craziness is needed like dental work or medical stuff because that would just throw the whole operation for a loop. On the flip side I will have a glorious 3 days off a week to recover from this burnout, write, be productive, and think of my next big life move because well, it’s time.

But I’m scared. What if I can’t make it? What if I don’t? I just don’t think those are options. Why do I never consider the What if I die tomorrow? Fear is the number one reason I would think with money being a close second that I don’t do SO many things in my life. FEAR. Just plain old fear. I think about the things I can’t buy like any new clothes or frivolities like smell good candles or massages, all these things I’m able to do now to try to quell the misery that the job that makes me the money evokes. See the vicious cycle here? But we don’t NEED these things and it really doesn’t stack up to much when you weigh it against following what your heart desires and what you know your person needs does it?

It’s like operating without a safety net. I’ve done it before, I’m pretty sure I can do it again. *Sigh* I always thought by 34 I would be settled, whatever that is. It could be that I’m afraid of doing the work all over again. Either way I know all the “rational” plans I have made for myself up until now never panned out, maybe it’s time for some irrational ones.

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The Whys

There are more people in this world that I can even feasibly imagine. There’s a number to it, it may be somewhere around 7.4 billion. Some incredibly high number that I have no idea how to conceive of wrapping my head around. As I’m typing I’m sure it’s gone up just a couple thousand. We will all have different experiences grounded in the same idea of needing love, food, shelter, and (for those of us who are lucky enough to not have to spend a substantial portion of our lives on the absolute necessities to allow our bodies to function at their most basic level) understanding of our own selves and what and who we are.

You hear that a lot you know, from these inspirational social media accounts, and jolly posters hanging on classroom and library walls, be yourself. Just be yourself, and the rest is history.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it’s not as easy as it may sound, not one bit. There’s a lot of times in life when being “yourself” keeps you from the things you think you want, or the things you may be conditioned to want. That’s when things get weird. Well, did you really want them at all? Who is right, the voice in your heart, the voice in your head, or the voice from your stomach that reminds you, “hey we need to eat every day”.

I’m at this point. This very point where I’m not sure if me being me is a detriment to my life, or something that is going to pan out to be amazing. The only thing I can do now is examine the why of it all to keep me from downright giving up.

So why do I sit here and type words on a screen and dump them into the great wide nowhere?

Because I have to, I literally go crazy if I don’t. Writing is a very basic form of human expression. We all write don’t we, in some sense, every day. So, what’s with wanting to share it, and have people read what I write? I think it has something to do with connection, with healing. When I read things that connect with me I feel like it’s magic. I want to do that. I don’t really care if other people think it’s good or if it’s shit. I don’t care if people sit in their offices and throw every single poem I ever send to them out the window. I can’t care, it hinders me too much. Caring about it makes me want to stick my head in the dirt like an Ostrich and give up. If I can just connect to a few people that need it, that need the friend, the sage, the advice, or just to feel that there is somebody else out there. Something else out there, a similar thread. We are all of one entity, going through the same basic experiences. It’s sharing, it’s talking, it’s expression. So why do we need a formula, or a measure of success from it all? Whatever that is. Is success selling a book, is it being able to do what you love for a living, is it buying a new house, or having people pat you on the back in a room while smoking cigars saying good job old chum you did it, is it getting a degree and hanging it on your wall then paying back your student loan debt for 30 years? Please don’t ask me, because I have no idea.

I started a twitter account where I follow mainly writing accounts. Today I came across this article, and it sparked this whole (above) train of thought in me.

It discusses some new female poets who seem to be catching a lot of heat from people who think their work is too commercial, amateurish, and lacks elements of what makes other poetry “great”. It’s all opinions, conversations, and yes there can be critics. It is allowed. But it really made me think about what I do, and my own feelings of inadequacy about what I put out.

These ladies tell their own stories from their heart, in their own individual voices. I applaud that. I haven’t read any of their stuff (we have it at the public but one copy is lost and the one we have has 2 holds) but I do know that I was asked for Milk and Honey by so many young women at the public that I had to investigate to see what it was. It’s been a commercial success, and some people may think that it devalues the work. It doesn’t. It makes it more valuable. People WANT to read it, people are seeking it out, people are connecting to it, it circulates. Digital platforms and social media are changing the way that creative writing is being shared and distributed. It’s not under lock and key anymore, there are no rules, and for some people that invalidates things. I see a parallel in information that is used academically. The internet is a breeding ground for incorrect and biased information, this is my job to help people determine good information from unreliable information. There is a dark side to such accessibility and openness in publishing.  I just, personally, can’t see how it stacks up when you are dealing with creative works, or art of any form.

The article can be found at the guardian.com  here

This all goes back to the WHY of it all. If the why is connection and having your true self be heard, accepted, and used for the good of others then I would say these ladies are wildly successful, and role models in fact. It encourages others to use their voices, and to spread their own truths. If the why is having your work praised by those that hold degrees from academia and have studied literature and literary analysis, then yeah, probably not as much. I don’t see how either of these whys are invalid, they are just different.

This is also where all my personal hang-ups about digital publishing appear. Am I just a tool bag with a blog? Maybe. Am I just spewing awful cringe-worthy poems out there into already abundant slush piles of literary journals that nobody probably even reads anyways? Perhaps. What about those things I self-publish, they don’t seem worthy of anything do they? Probably not to most people. I just have to stick to my WHYs and remember that they are as valid as any others.

Ask yourself why you do what you do. The answer may surprise you.

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Image obtained from: https://pixabay.com/en/users/ElisaRiva-1348268/

Motivations

I did the life coach session yesterday and I must say it went very well. I’m feeling excited again, for the first time in a couple of months, and ready to face even more difficult things in order to dissolve them and be able to get on with building my happy little life. So I signed on for the three month. There is one thing that bothered me though. She asked me a pretty straightforward question that stumped me:

“What motivates you?”

Ummmmmmmmmm. (Followed by dead air for at least two minutes passing as I stare at the corner of the room where the ceiling meets the walls). I don’t know. I really had no answer to this. We moved on eventually, in the effort to not waste too much time. But then came back around to it. Maybe I didn’t understand the question. I eventually asked her:

“What motivates me to do what? Wake up every morning? Do my adult chores? Go out and socialize?”

She shrugs, it’s up to me to figure this one out. But it’s something I’m going to have to think about right now. So what do I do today? Of course I turn to the internet and Google “what motivates me” looking for tests, quizzes, advice?

I find the first test at:

Random Google generated online motivation quiz

According to them I am motivated by emotions. Well I KNEW that. Of course family, love and friendship motivate me. Maybe they motivate me to want to be a better person and that’s where all this soul searching is coming from. OK I guess that’s helpful. But I don’t really know the validity of this test or Psychologies magazine from the UK. Emily Blunt is on an advertised cover, and there is some really bad stock art with a business lady and a headset on the quiz, I’m going to group this being about as valid as Cosmo magazine, maybe the quick Google isn’t going to be the best place for this. Let’s redo this a different way…

I put together a Library guide a while ago about career services. I have self-assessment tests on there and I’ve taken probably all of them a million times. I can revisit those and see if they give me any direction, even if they are geared towards finding a job that suits you I think that it will probably line up pretty well with passions/interests/motivations…

Myers-Briggs is always a fan favorite. I have taken this test probably at least 25 times in my life, once or twice I think I got INFP, but about 90% of the time I score INFJ so we will stick with that. This score reminds me I’m extremely empathetic and an idealist. I value beauty, art and truth. Which I assume could be things that motivate me.

Myers-Briggs Test

Strong Interest Profile, this one tells you your interests, which I suppose could be the same thing as your motivators. I got artistic= 14, investigative= 11, and social=9 as my high points. My closest job match came up to be music therapist. That’s kind of interesting. But then of course I do see library sciences, post-secondary institution. WOOT, it’s right. That’s what I do. And creative writing, which I’ve been trying to do more of lately. Go to assess yourself, then interest profile and rate a bunch of tasks on whether you like or dislike them. It’s kind of interesting.

Strong Interest Profile

What about the Life Values Inventory? This one is a bit more involved. I had to actually create an account, then go in and take a 4 part assessment. Which only took about 10 minutes, but still seemed like a lot of work. Then it generated me a 13 page report about it, which took a while to get through, but turned out to be generally insightful.

Life Values Inventory

So what have I gathered from all this, what motivates me. Independence, creativity, lots of time for myself, and the need to feel belonging to some kind of social group. That all seems so basic though and I feel like those are just things that may motivate everybody. So let’s go back to these questions above again, the first three that came to mind

Why do I wake up each morning? Because I’m glad to be alive and each day could bring something new and awesome. (Gratitude or spirituality)

Why do I do my adult chores? Because I love living on my own in a space I love that I keep according to my standards, including décor and cleanliness. (Independence and privacy)

Why do I go out and socialize? AKA participate in other’s life events and occasionally go to concerts, or bars on a random Tuesday: Because I need to feel like I belong to a social group or body of peers and need love and acceptance. (Family, love, friendship, etc.)

I think it’s all starting to make a bit more sense to me now. Of course these assessments are just for educational purposes, they are in no means supposed to substitute for a therapist, career counselor, life coach, etc. But they are fun. Self-discovery can be prompted by almost anything, and assessments like this can be tools that give insight into yourself that was otherwise unclear, or maybe unseen. Maybe it’s easier for some people to just instinctively know what makes them tick and what motivates them. For me it’s been more of a challenge, especially these days. Maybe one of these tests can help you, even if not it will kill some time, and allow for some light reading. Life is really about just finding your own truth, and that may sound super simple and straightforward.. But it’s pretty complicated. This discovery brings to my mind a Keats poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, which was once so brilliantly incorporated into a Simpsons episode where Lisa enrolls in military school:

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Meme courtesy of Frinkiac.com. If you are a Simpson fanatic (seasons 1-10 only disclaimer) like myself you should really go and check it out.

Pipe dreams and motivations

So it turns out most of the digital collections work I did today may have been in vain. I won’t bore you with the intimate details, but sometimes it happens that way. Sigh.

What was good about today was book day here at the library. Published authors talked about their process, inspiration, frustrations, etc. It was cool to see the different types of work that can be done, textbooks, non-fiction, and fiction. It made me realize this writing dream isn’t really too far-fetched. I may not be Faulkner, but I can just write for the sake of feeling slightly creative and see where it goes. My brainstreams blog is a good start. But I want to start some short story work, I kind of did that last night about my public library patron arch nemesis. Which I will just try to do more observation work on these tech center crazies, and pass the time that way. If nothing else, this whole movement made me attempt to clean up my laptop, which was on otherwise expensive paperweight thanks to ex jerk #1..

I have my great-grandmother’s and grandfather’s novel drafts that are burining a hole in my pocket at the moment.. I can’t believe my mom was just going to throw them away when she moved. I have been meaning to digitize them first to keep them safe lest any fire break out or whatever, but if I wanted to edit them I would have to convert to word using OCR tech and I don’t have that. A long time ago, I was bored and tried starting to transcribe them into word, but that takes a long time. I still might do it. Now I have time on my hands. I realized I haven’t even really read either of them all the way through I don’t want to say if they are “good” or “bad” I don’t want to judge them I want them to just be what they are.. I wonder if I should lightly edit, and try to get them published. I don’t know legally how that works if they are both long dead?

At the same time, I was kind of playing with the idea of going back to school for a PHD in history. This is a long shot dream, but now that I’m thinking of Keren’s book (the other Keren) maybe focusing on prostitution and the comstock lode, the Nevada area, etc. This could be something coming together in my brain. After all I have connections to the area as well, so If I have to go up to research I am familiar. This means I’ll get more degrees (yay!) But also more debt (boo) but also more writing (yay) and also more research (yay) but where is there time for all of this? It’s all just ideas right now. But I have to move forward on them before I get lazy and old and disconnected from any creativity I may have left.

There’s possibility out there I guess I just have to find it.