Grieving an Identity

Image of a stenciled girl in black letting go of a red heart balloonPhoto by Karim Manjra on Unsplash

After three years at the University of California Merced, I returned to Merced College in August, though to the main campus in Merced instead of Los Baños. It has not been an easy transition. My work / life balance is much better (I get winter, spring, and summer break again), but the problem is that I don’t what to do with myself. When folks ask me what I’m up to, I, frankly, don’t have much to say because, for so long, work has been my identity. In trying to make peace between the life I thought I wanted and this new trajectory, I haven’t been the easiest person to be around. Managing my anxiety and depression has been difficult. I am grieving.

I had imagined a life where I would be working on research and writing articles and book chapters, maybe even co-editing a book or two.  Even though research wasn’t necessarily required at UC, I knew I would be part of a network of librarians engaged in this kind of work. When I was a solo community college librarian, I got involved in ACRL committee work, and it exposed me to folks doing great things in the profession. I felt less isolated. Slow but sure, my confidence grew. I continued this work at UC Merced. I finally got the courage to submit lightning talk proposals, and I actually presented at a few conferences, even though I didn’t feel like what I was sharing was groundbreaking. I even wrote a couple of short trade pieces.

In early 2018, as I was preparing for a two year review (for 18-months of work), I felt, strangely, unaccomplished. I was doing things but not THE THINGS. I was constantly busying myself and worrying about my review. Honestly, coming across Abby Flanigan’s blog post, “Vocational Awe and Professional Identity,” which was about Fobazi Ettarh’s article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” made me realize that I had turned my job into a lifestyle. I had pushed myself, and I got the standard merit increase, which is the norm at UC, but when I learned that a colleague who wrote a book also got a standard review, I knew I couldn’t continue this pace. Ultimately, I had to ask myself whether this professional activity was actually that important.

But I am sad. I was able to grow as a teacher at UC Merced, and I learned a lot from my colleagues and from various professional development opportunities. I enjoyed our instructional brown bag sessions and various projects. I’m a better librarian because of my time there.

I know this change doesn’t mean that I can’t do some of those things I had previously imagined, but I also know that I want a life that isn’t consumed by the next best thing in academic librarianship. Though I will probably always be a bit of a workaholic, I want to lead a healthier life.

I’m currently on winter break, so I’ll be taking time to figure some things out.

Lifelong Learning, but not a Library Post

Image of black and brown metal fabric scissors resting on top of assorted swatches of fabric

Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

One of my intentions is to write a little more often here, and although I tend to keep this blog as a work journal more for my own benefit, I was smart not to do any specific branding, so I feel safe straying from time to time.

My husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage on January 3rd. We chose to get married the first Saturday in January to mark our new start in a new year. My husband’s birthday is also the 6th, the official last day of Christmas, so we’re all about stretching the holiday season to the last drop, it seems. During the first week of January, one of our traditions is making a list of shared goals and individual goals and intentions. We just finished our kitchen remodel in December, so, this year, we have some smaller home improvement goals. We need to install a new fence, add rock to our front yard and backyard, paint some rooms, and finish personalizing our house. We’ve been homeowners for nearly six years, and I’ve really enjoyed making it ours.

In the spirit of (home)making, one of my personal goals is to learn how to use a sewing machine. I want to the freedom to make curtains, table runners, and pillow covers using fabric I actually like versus hunting forever or just settling. This is a big deal for me because I am terrible at sticking to hobbies. (I actually got motivated to do this from a HuffPost article. Number 7, which is “Learn something new,” stopped me in my tracks: “What have you always been interested in learning but felt either too busy or fearful to prioritize? That’s what you should focus on.”) I registered for a sewing class through our local community college’s community education classes. I’m really looking forward to it, though I will most likely have to miss the third class due to a conference.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? I’d love to hear.

2019 Reading Challenge

Happy 2019!

I took two weeks off, and, I, unfortunately, ended my staycation with a gnarly head cold, which threw a wrench in the plans I had leading up to going back to work, but I’m thankful that I’m finally feeling better. I was actually supposed to go back today, but NyQuil did me in.

I have lots of plans for the new year, and not all are work-related  (yasss!), one of which includes reading more books. I read a ton of articles, but books are more challenging for me to get through. I actually read 13 books last year, which is one more than my goal of 12. To check out what I read, visit my 2018 Reading Challenge. I couldn’t have done it without my reading marathon during my break.

Image of 13 book covers with a caption that reads "2018 Reading Challenge: You have read 13 of 12 books in 2018."

This year, my aim is to read 18, and I’ve already read two. What was your favorite read of 2018? Do you have any book-reading goals?

If you’re on Goodreads, find me at goodreads.com/LindsayLib.

INFJ-T: “The Advocate”

This is not meant to serve as advertising for 16Personalities, but I really like learning about personality types. I have taken a number of personality quizzes, and all of them point to the INFJ personality.

Your personality type: “The Advocate” (INFJ-T)
Strength of individual traits: Introverted: 84%, Intuitive: 59%, Feeling: 75%, Judging: 55%, Turbulent: 83%.
Role: Diplomat
Strategy: Constant Improvement

What is your personality type? How does that fit with your work life and career? Librarianship, for all the jokes, is a very people-centered job. I enjoy teaching and outreach, but I do get worn out if it’s been a particularly people-heavy day. The job I had before this one was public services 100 percent of the time, so my new job is a much more balanced environment in that I am not at the reference desk all day (uh, we don’t have a reference desk at UC Merced…) I find that I am less drained at the end of my day and feel more social as a result. I also think no one in the library actually thinks I’m 83 percent introverted. LOL! Dancing and singing with preschoolers during story time for a couple of years at the public library helped me come out of my shell a bit more. The results of the quiz I took explain, “It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extroverted types…”

Here is the full analysis of my personality profile. The section under identity has me pegged to a tee. Literally, the “T” in INFJ-T is for turbulent. “Turbulent individuals are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They are likely to experience a wide range of emotions and to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve.” Sigh. It’s not wrong.

Take the quiz! What is your personality type?

31

It’s been a while. March and April are busy months for me at work, and there was a stretch of time where I was feeling pretty disorganized on top of it. And maybe distracted knowing that I am heading to a new job in June, but, as always, I eventually come around. I bounce back. I turned 31 last Friday, and I can tell you that “bounce back” is my 21-31 theme.

I’ve written about some of this before, but it’s good to reflect. I grew up in a small religious environment that was mostly built around immediate and extended family, and although I went to public school my entire life, I was shy and didn’t really live a life outside of school, home, and church.  When I was 19 and 20, I lost a lot of weight–almost 70 pounds. It started well enough, but by mid-2005, I was dieting excessively and addicted to exercise. I was finally thin and happy for a while, but in 2006, at 21, I was in a very sad, confusing period. I was unsure and insecure. Not that you can really tell in the photo below, taken on my 21st birthday, but I wore sweaters and blazers to cover up my thinness. (And I didn’t even eat any of that cake!) It took me a whole summer, fall, and winter to get out of my funk. I took off the Fall 2006 semester; I just couldn’t concentrate.

21

I didn’t know just how much my life would change that following spring. Around my 22nd birthday, in 2007, I met my now husband online via MySpace. (Hey, now, it was popular back then.) We had our first date on my birthday, and we’ve been together for nine years now.

I graduated from college in 2008. I got married in 2009. I graduated from graduate school in 2011. We bought a house in 2013. I also got my first full-time librarian job in 2013, and now I’m headed to the library at University of California Merced, the first library I ever volunteered at, in June.

At 31, I am really pleased with where I am. I am happy about where I am in my career and in my relationship with my husband. This is also the best I have ever felt about myself. I have come to accept many things about my(INFJ)self. Here’s a little list. 

  • I have a little rebellious streak. I wish I were a Phryne Fisher, but I’m a Dot who is at least brave enough to team up with Miss Fisher. I did go to both D.C. and Vegas by myself, after all.
  • I am creative. I sometimes wonder if I followed the academic path because I didn’t know any other alternatives.
  • I am a reflector.
  • I am always going to be a little shy. For example, my little secret is that I enjoy singing. But I will die first if you think I will ever reveal that side of me. I have the worst stage fright. Comparable to my fear of heights; just ask my husband about when we went to the Grand Canyon.
  • Underneath my reserved exterior, I am actually a little funny. Like, honestly, I did not see that one coming.

Also, rather than hate myself for not living up to certain standards, particularly expectations of others, I just focus on what I can do with the time and energy I have to give away. Lately, that’s taking care of me, which means no longer saying yes to every project or opportunity that comes my way: I quit that OER adult learning MOOC I mentioned I registered for a few posts back, and I am rethinking my plan to go back to graduate school, also mentioned a few posts back, too. Life is too short to do things you think you have to do, though my little overachieving heart is breaking as I type this.

Here’s to 31!

New Job!

Since I officially signed paperwork on Friday, I can share with the online world. (This actually is only partially true because I revealed on Facebook a few weeks ago.) I got a new job!

I’m the new instruction librarian at University of California Merced. I am really pleased to have a more specialized role and am looking forward to improving my instruction efforts. I start in June. I applied in October and interviewed in November and December. I informally accepted the offer right as winter break at Merced College, the community college where I currently work, ended. I am starting in June, so I can finish out the semester at the Los Banos Campus. I’m the only librarian during the day, so it was important for me to be here to get our students through the research rush in March and April.

Many people have asked me why I am leaving. There are some good things about my current job, but I’ve known for a couple of years that I was going to need to fill other desires I have for my career. The questions largely stem from the knowledge that I am leaving for a position where I will be working more for slightly less pay than what I make right now. I am leaving a 10-month tenure track faculty role for a 12-month non-faculty librarian position.

I do what I do because I want to help students on their educational path, but I also need to feel useful and that I am growing professionally. I will miss my librarian colleagues at the other campus and my colleagues in Los Banos, as well as assisting students from a variety of ages and experiences, but my personal happiness and growth are important. I am forever grateful to Merced College for giving me the opportunity to launch my professional career, first as an adjunct faculty member and then as a full-time faculty member, but it’s time for something new. I am nervous but excited.

 

2016 Reading Resolution

If you’re a librarian, people assume you really, super duper love reading and that that’s all you  do in your spare time. (But that’s not actually why I got into librarianship at all. For me, it’s the research and providing access component.) When I was younger and didn’t have responsibilities, I loved reading. I was a “read a book in a day” kind of person. When I worked in a public library, I also read a lot, but more for work purposes; it’s a good thing I do enjoy YA! I just haven’t been able to get back into the reading groove for several years now. In fact, I sort of have anxiety when it comes to reading for fun–What did I forget to do? I should do those dishes. I should exercise, etc.

I do read a lot of professional literature and library blogs, etc., but not what you traditionally think of reading for pleasure, although I do enjoy the reading I do. I also have about a three-hour commute round-trip (I drive), and while I have done audiobooks, I would rather get my NPR fix during my commute. The segments are shorter, and I do have to concentrate on my drive.

For 2016, I plan to read 12 books. It’s not a high number, and I already have books lined up from both Goodreads and things already on my shelf (including “librarian” books), but it’s a number I feel like I can get through without pressure. I am quite proud that I actually read The Circle during my winter break. It took two days, and I actually finished it on the last day of 2015.

In addition to this, my husband and I will be re-instilling reading together, but because of our schedules, we’re doing it book club style. He is not a big reader, but he has read a few books this last year. I am so proud! I have been sick with a cold all week, and during his days off, we watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, so we decided on starting with The Hobbit.

Community Giving & World Relief

This isn’t a library post, but we librarians sure love our communities—the ones we work with and the ones we live in.

With Thanksgiving and the Christmas season around the corner, I have a lot on my mind, but not parties, presents, and pleasantries. I have been thinking about people in distress in my local community and about the Syrian refugee crisis and what we can do to help. (Even before the American backlash after the Paris attack, I followed the refugee story. A few years ago, I read The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, and I became very interested in refugees around the world. )

My husband and I are very big proponent of giving our finances and time. For both college and graduate school, I received scholarships from donors, so I give to both my alma maters, California State University Stanislaus (I also work here part-time) and San José State University, and I also give to the community college I work for, Merced College.  I don’t talk about this much, but we also give to our church, Crossroads Church, so that we can help carry out the work to assist people in need.  We also give to the Modesto Gospel Mission, a local homeless shelter, and to Second Harvest Foodbank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. And if my bio says NPR listener, you bet I give to Capital Public Radio. We also do various one-time donations for issues that come up throughout the year.

Regarding the refugee situation, I wanted to highlight World Relief Modesto, another organization we donate to. World Relief helps resettle refugees that are placed in Modesto. My first encounter with World Relief was actually seeing them in action in the community when I was working part-time at my local library, Stanislaus County Library. A World Relief volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man the public library. I was so impacted that I, at one point, applied for a job with World Relief. I didn’t get the job, mostly because they knew how much I loved libraries. I really believe in the work they do. If you can give to a similar organization in your area, please do!

What causes, charities, or other groups do you donate your time or finances to? What issues are close to your heart? Besides libraries, of course.

Weight Lifting

weight-plates-299537_640I meant to write something the last few weeks, but I’ve been preoccupied with a summer goal I made in June. This summer, I decided that I needed to get back into fitness. For the last ten years, I have been all over the place when it comes to health, exercise, and eating. There is definitely a reason I don’t follow food through social media or blogs.

Ten years ago, when I was a sophomore in college, I decided to change my life. In October 2004, I started eating healthy and went for long walks outdoors with a friend. Then we worked on incorporating jogging, also outdoors. I got to the point where I was running outside twice a day for quite a few miles, and I HAD to exercise. I was addicted. I also started eating less and less over time. By August 2005, I had dropped 67 pounds based on what I weighed the summer before I started college. Who knows? It could have been more, but I knew not to weigh myself prior because I didn’t want to feel discouraged by the number. My mind and body had definitely not caught up with each other. I felt exposed when I went back to school as a junior–my first test in this new body happened when I went to the orientation for my student job. I don’t mean it the way this is going to sound, but I felt like people treated me more nicely. Or maybe I was feeling better about myself and it resonated with others.

I was really in trouble with my health by the end of 2005. I was still technically not underweight based on the BMI, but I was too thin and hungry all the time, although I didn’t actually know it was hunger. (I still find it really difficult to say the word anorexia.) Then I started dating someone–my first dating experience–and it was surreal. I finally felt accepted, but I struggled with my self-image and confidence. I was still growing up. I had a difficult spring dealing with things. Summer came. My brother went off to the Army. I made it to the beginning of October before I took a leave of absence for the rest of  the semester. It was the right thing to do. The university gave me a year to finish that coursework. I went back to school for the Spring 2007 semester with 10 units, so I could still keep my grants and scholarships to pay for school. Later that spring, I met what would be my husband, and, together, he and I did healthy exercise together, and I learned to eat normally again.

I was in pretty good shape for a while, and then I went to graduate school. I was weighing 20 pounds more than my normal. For the last 4 years, I have struggled with 10-15 pounds, and I decided to do something about it. I re-started a regular exercise routine that is more than just cardio. I am working on building my strength with weight training at the gym near my house, and I have, surprisingly, been enjoying it. My goal for this semester Monday-Friday is to continue yoga (I started last summer) on Monday, a little cardio and weights on Tuesday, cardio on Wednesday, and a little cardio and weights again on Friday. I have a very tight schedule with my commute, so it’s going to be a challenge to keep it up. I also plan on walking during my lunch at work. If only I could will myself to get up 30 minutes early to hit the treadmill or neighborhood.

My weight hasn’t changed since the end of June, but my body has changed in muscle tone, and I have lost some inches. I am also feeling a lot better about myself. I feel like a weight’s been lifted. (Punny, I know.)

Should vs. Must

I really like the Brain Pickings website. Maria Popova’s writing has helped me a lot, and I always look forward to reading new posts.

One post that really is a good read is called “The Crossroads of Should and Must: An Intelligent Illustrated Field Guide to Finding Your Bliss,” which is about Elle Luna’s book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion. I haven’t read the book yet, but I added it to my to be read list. Here is the crux of it–we can choose between should and must. Luna explains:

Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us.

Sometimes, Shoulds are small, seemingly innocuous, and easily accommodated. “You should listen to that song,” for example. At other times, Shoulds are highly influential systems of thought that pressure and, at their most destructive, coerce us to live our lives differently.

Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own — and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals.

I have a friend who, when I say the words, “I should…,” will say “By whose authority?” I kind of hate it, but it is a good way to remind me of the difference and to be conscious of my choices.

Here’s Popova’s post on “How to Find Your Bliss: Joseph Campbell on What it Takes to Have a Fulfilling Life.”