Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lessons I Keep Learning

I am in the middle of a harrowing couple of weeks. Actually, if it wasn't for my friends birthday today and a few other bright spots in this month, I would be ready to write the month of March right outta the calendar. But that's another post. I am in the middle of job searching, search committee-ing and general library craziness. And quite honestly? I feel like I'm being pushed into molds, pulled in every direction and expected to be okay with it all.

Lesson of the day #1: Ask what's expected of you.

I spent some time chatting with a super cool cataloguer today. She's an enigma in the library world: she is loud. She is loud and I love it. She and I also have similar taste in shoes and from day one, she's reminded me of my good friend Rachel. So, win-win in my book! (Plus, she is the one who turned me onto Firefly, Buffy & Angel, so maybe throw another "win" in the mix!) Anyway, today she was asking me about a few things, my schedule being one of them. Most of the librarians are out at a 5 day (maybe 4.5 days) conference in Philadelphia and I am the only person in the Reference Department. I offered to pick up all the Reference Desk shifts since everyone was going to be away, because that is what I thought interns did. They picked up the slack. They did the dirty work. After all, they are *just* the intern, right?
She did not share my sentiment.
She was completely cool with me pitching in of course. We do that here; we all pitch in. I told her that I was never sure what my duties were or what people assumed I would do. I have this horrible problem with comparison. What if I'm doing it different from the last intern? What if she did it a way that they liked and they won't tell me to change the way I'm doing it? What if, what if, what if. But she said to me, "Ask what is expected of you. That way you know." Wait, it's that easy? But of course, it has to be! I wish I had realized that sooner...

Lesson of the day #2: Speak up and be loud.

Our conversation turned to the internship search. She asked for my gut reaction and I told her I didn't have one. I have participated and shared my thoughts about the applicants throughout the whole process. But now we are in the final stages and I am feeling less and less confident about my opinion. Everyone has done this before, right? They have more life experience so they can read people better. You hear it, don't you? I didn't hear it when I said it today, but every key tap I make as I write this post screams it at me: insecurity.
My super cool cataloguer friend looked at my and laughed. "They don't know more than you. They act like they know more. Your thoughts on the search are just as important as their thoughts on the search. Speak up and be heard." Now, quite honestly, both of the lessons today are ones I've heard before. I seem to need to hear things more than once for them to really sink into my brain. Maybe I'll remember them always now. Maybe I won't. But it was nice to be reminded today.
If she had been my cheerleader (aka my mom, PT, etc.) it might have sounded something like this: You -all of you, including your opinions and thoughts- are important! You have been given a brain--use it! Don't wish for or be jealous of the gifts others have been given. You have been given gifts unique only to you. Be glad of them. And most of all, you are loved.
At least, that's what I think it would sound like...