25 September 2012

On Being a Librarian Without a Job

*Please excuse my complete lack of posts for the past two-three months. My excuses are: 1. I'm still trying to figure out what my library story looks like now that I'm back in the US and 2. (more excitingly) I got married less than three weeks ago and promptly moved across the country...sometimes life just takes over. :) But I do hope to start writing again as I explore a new library story in Minnesota.

I've decided that being a librarian is one of the best jobs in the world. Sorry to all you teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, whatevers out there. Being a librarian is great. We get the privilege of helping people find information...ultimately inspiring them. Just watch this TED Talk to see someone who changed his life because of information he found in a library.

Anyway, I knew how great libraries and librarians were when I was in Uganda. I loved my work. [I miss it!] And I wouldn't have become a librarian in the first place if I didn't see it as The Best Job in the World.

But I've been struck again but how great a job it is now that I don't have one.

Part of what I love about being a librarian is the purpose I feel when I'm at work. I honestly feel like I get to be a part of changing communities and lives by helping connect people to information. It's pretty exciting...knowing that you could be a part of a bigger story. Now that I am on the job market, I sometimes find myself wondering what my purpose is. And I'm trying to define the purpose of my life in new ways.

My days are full with other things right now [job searching one of them] but I've definitely felt the lack of purpose. I miss the satisfaction of finding a patron the perfect book or watching the light bulb go on when they learn something new on the computer. Because, let's face it, unpacking suitcases and finding the nearest supermarket just doesn't have the same purpose.

And I've discovered again how much the American culture places an emphasis on what we do. One of the first questions people ask when you meet them is: What do you do? [And when you're to a new place, you get this question a lot!] This can be an incredibly depressing question if what you do is job search...you look for what you are going to do in the future. It can make the future feel more important than the now. Which is exactly the type of mentality I learned to NOT live by in Uganda...where the focus is more on now and not later. Talk about culture shock!

So, I'm trying to find new ways to define the purpose of my life. And not simply focus on my job. I'm learning to take joy in finding information for those around me and for myself. If being a librarian involves connecting people to information, I'm trying to find satisfaction in doing that every day, whether it's looking for a job, finding our next apartment, or looking up local things to do. I'm exploring ways to get involved in the community while I look for a job. Most importantly, I'm trying to give myself permission to simply BE.

I'm learning again that a good story is not with out it's ups and downs, transitions, and a whole lot of unknown. I've started a new chapter and have no idea where it's going...and isn't that what makes a good story? 

And I refuse to define my story--tell my story--based solely on what I do...but also on who I am.

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