For the first time in a long time I took a vacation and completely disconnected from work. I’m talking didn’t check my email, didn’t worry about looming deadlines, didn’t wonder how programs were going, didn’t think about community partnerships. Just…didn’t.*
And it was absolutely glorious.
I’ve been thinking about why this is the first time in 10 years(!) I’ve been able to do this. I know it’s partly due to having a good work situation right now. I feel confident in what I do, I’m able to manage my time well, and I enjoy the people I work with. I’m excited and engaged but not overwhelmed. But I think there’s a deeper tension that exists that I’ll try to explain to the best of my ability.
It probably comes as no surprise that I love being a children’s librarian. Like LOVE love. I love programming, collection management, outreach, public service, research, mentoring others, all of it. I especially love the variety of tasks in my job description and that every day looks different. I love the emotional payout I get from helping others and from interacting with children and families. I love that I get paid a pretty good wage compared to most public librarians. I feel like I’m contributing to a society I want to live in. And what I’ve realized is that when you love your job so much it’s easy to take on your job title as a key part of your identity.
I did a group retreat a few years ago and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. I was struck by the fact that I was the only person who mentioned their job. And if I’m honest I was a little put off that others didn’t share this information. Wouldn’t their job title reveal some crucial information about who they are as a person?
No, no it wouldn’t. And that’s okay! Possibly even better. What I learned on my recent holiday is that when I can disconnect from my role as a children’s librarian it frees me up to experience life in a different way. A way that I would like to tap into more often. I felt the happiest I have felt in a really long time. Instead of being a children’s librarian on vacation with her family, I was Lindsey, a person on vacation with her family (and who works as a children’s librarian).
There has been much written about vocational awe and our culture’s obsession with work by people smarter than me. I’ve read about these things in depth and it still took me this long to re-evaluate my own relationship to my job. I want to keep loving my job, but I also want to let it go as such a big part of who I am.
I hope this shift will allow me to have a healthier balance in my life. A better sense of my priorities. A renewed sense of freedom within myself. And with any luck I’ll be able to say I still love my job years down the road.
*The only exception is when I bought an Ariel bubble wand at Disneyland because those bubbles are LEGIT and I had a vision of walking around the room at babytime watching their faces light up while “Under the Sea” plays in the background.
**Remember when I said I would be sharing more spitballing posts that I don’t spend hours writing and editing? Here it is; please be kind to me.