Finding the Work/Life Balance

This topic has come up before on TSU, but it’s worth another discussion. And one, I’m sure, will come up again and again. I know how easy it is to let librarianship, especially teen services, take over your life. It happens without you knowing– or at least it did for me. Before I knew it all my reading, social media, and even lunch dates were all about work/libraries. At first it was completely invigorating, but now it feels a bit overwhelming.

Wait, wait, let me explain. I’m not saying any of these things are a bad things, but you need to have a balance.  I, personally, lost that balance. I felt like I had let work take over my life to the point there was little else but libraries going on.

Before I go too far, let me be clear that I am not talking about work-work. I stopped doing that at home within my first year of my professional job. I realized I wasn’t showing a proper workload/my worth by doing things at home. What I’m talking about is things that I needed to be a better librarian, which I admittedly did to myself.

Things like only reading YA books. I believed that if I wasn’t reading YA then who was! Since I was a slow reader I couldn’t waste time adding in adult books. I also dropped a lot of the genres I loved in exchange for those I hated for a variety of reasons. For example, I stopped reading a lot of fantasy books, which I love, because another co-worker reads them as well. I figured that we had that niche covered so I should do something else. This year it was mystery and thrillers, which I’ve discovered I hated, but it was genre few of us read. So, I continued to make myself read them until I got to the point that I barely wanted to read anymore.

I also started to realize that libraries was all I talked about. I had filled my time with committees and networking and looking for the next big idea, that I let take up all my free time. I found I rarely gamed or crafted or did any of my pre-librarian hobbies. I knew as burnt out took over I need to find my balance.

I’ll admit it took me a long time to finally say and commit to that statement. I had this overwhelming guilt that if I pulled back I’d be letting my teens down. I had to tell myself it was okay to remember that being a librarian was a job. That it was okay to call it quits when I clocked out for the day. It didn’t have to be my everything.

That’s not to say I don’t still network and talk about work when I’m not at work, but I’m trying to make a conscious effort to make more of a division. I’ve been picking books to read because I think I’ll like it, not because I think it’ll fill a RA hole. I’m allowing myself to not read at all if that’s what I want. Maybe instead I’ll spend it watching TV or playing games or something else. I try not to feel bad if I go a week without finishing a book. I know it’s going to be a while before my joy of reading comes back and, you know what, that’s okay.

At work, however, I do try to pay attention to social media, especially Twitter, and see what people are reading and enjoying. I look at blogs, edelweiss, and review journals to fill those gaps without doing the forced reading. I even try to do my networking more on work-time as well. I may not have it all balanced quite yet, but I’m working on it. Mostly, I’ve learned it’s okay to say no/pull back/take care of myself. In the end, the division will help me be happier as a person which will in turn make me a better librarian.  

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