I vividly remember that September day when I walked into the Hayden Library at Arizona State University some 22 years ago. I think I registered for 15 units, five three credit classes. I was splitting my time between ASU and Mesa Community College. The library was my paradise. I literally felt I could do anything if I devoted myself to studying in library. I got a job in the library later that week. My fate was set! I was well on my way to becoming a librarian.
It took me another nine years, completion of an AAS (2001), M.Ed. (2002) and M.Ed (2003) before I completed that library science degree (2006). It has been thirteen years since I earned that MLS and ten of those years, I have been an academic librarian. I spent a few years as an academic adviser (2006-08) and a year as an instructional designer (2013-14). What have I learned during those ten years? Here are some thoughts and they have nothing to do with librarianship.
1. The Grass is Not Always Greener
I loved my job at Washburn University. Those five years were the best of my academic career. The six years since I left have not been as professionally rewarding. Financially, it has been immensely rewarding and made it possible for me to retire at a reasonable age. Happiness in a job has to be more important than pay.
2. Terrible Colleagues are Everywhere
If you think you situation is unique, think again! I have worked with some terrible people in higher education. And yes, they were terrible. This fact is not unique to libraries or higher education. Some people are just terrible at being humans. The majority of people are not terrible. However, conflict based people are alive and well. They live on the drama of conflict and will do whatever it takes to continue making life miserable for all!
3. Life is Hard
Life is hard, work is hard, did I mention life is hard? Even the most stable people can struggle at work and life. Be patient, be caring, don’t be a jerk! Show compassion for the human spirit and my God, it is just a damn job! If you get consumed with hate at work, quit. Find a new job. If you can’t because of those golden handcuffs, you had better find a way to function. Maybe write a blog?
4. Don’t Burn Bridges
Be humble in all situations and don’t burn bridges. You know what I mean. Simply put, it is the act of unpleasantly and permanently ending relations with another person, or an organization. Johnny Paycheck’s advice is terrible advice. Be humble, demonstrate humility and do the right thing. Let it go, water off a duck’s back and being able to have piece of mind is the key.
5. Your Opinion is the Only One that Matters
“Seeking approval from others withholds your freedom and independence. It can make you a slave to opinions to ensure your emotional balance. This often feels like the most necessary part of life. But true self-fulfillment derives from the Self, the self-concept of you, not another’s view of you. Your self-concept is the source of your self-confidence (not to be confused with arrogance, which is an aspect of insecurity disguised as confidence). Self-confidence is defined as perceiving your own worth, your own strengths and skills. If we place too much value on someone else’s opinions or reactions to us, it can hinder our self-worth. Self-worth is about you and how you value yourself.” No Clue where I found this passage. I just read it daily.