Today marks the tenth anniversary of the official start of my full-time career as a librarian. It also marks the midpoint of my career, as retirement becomes an option (and one I plan to pursue) at the twenty-year point.
I love my work. It’s essentially an extension of what I’d been doing as a hobby for more than a decade before I entered the profession; I create digital content from historical materials and share it with the world. As a librarian, backed by a university and a lot of grant funding, I just get to do it on a much larger scale, with more resources, and a much bigger content base to start from. It’s great; I was lucky enough to find a position doing exactly what I wanted to be doing when I decided to get my Master’s degree. Now I’m tenured university faculty with a pretty nice life and lots of job security. I think that’s pretty much the last thing most visitors to this site might have expected, say, twenty years ago.
My enthusiasm for my newfound career may literally have saved me from a meltdown (or worse) in “the dark years” of 2011-2013 when I was simultaneously dealing with the end of my marriage, my mom’s startlingly rapid descent into dementia, and the loss of my dad. My career gave me something I could focus on and feel I had control over at a point when I didn’t really feel I had control over many other parts of my life. And the timing was good, as it coincided with the time I needed to be building up a beefy portfolio to make tenure. I became a bit of an overachiever in this one area, though I may have neglected some other areas in the process. My job, in short, became a bigger part of my life than I hd ever expected (or thought I wanted) it to be.
I’m at a little different point now. I still love my work and have no intention of giving it up, but the past two years (and especially the last few months) have been very challenging for me and really for everyone I work with. I’m finding myself reassessing what’s important to me, personally and professionally. After finally dealing with what was likely a longstanding case of depression a few years back, I learned how to enjoy other things again and stopped relying so much on my work for my happiness in life.
Now I’m once again thinking very seriously about what the next ten years will look like for me, both personally and professionally.
It’s not really about the anniversary so much as about some recent issues at work, but this does seem to be an appropriate time to be thinking about this stuff. I’m 55 years old and whether I like it or not, I’m entering a new phase in my life that requires some contemplation. I need to start thinking about what’s important to me personally and then to make the things that are important to me professionally fit into that plan. That may be something of a reversal of the past ten years, or ot may just be a recognition of the fact that the two are not interchangeable.
Either way, I’ll let you know how it turns out. Maybe.