We are four (almost five) weeks into the Spring 2016 semester and I already had my first major blow.
It wasn’t a grade or a bad paper or a bad professor. No. For the first time in my entire academic career I had to admit I couldn’t handle the stress of school. You know what I mean. The stress of working full-time and taking two classes while trying to keep my mind and body healthy, present at conferences, blog, have a social life, and find time to sleep.
As an undergrad it felt like nothing to hold down two or three jobs while going to school full time. I was 20. I was invincible. But I’m not 20 anymore. And what they don’t teach you when you’re an undergrad is that life gets more complicated the farther from 20 you get.
Thankfully, I’ve had the good fortune in almost all my jobs of having very understanding bosses. When I needed a day off, or to work away from my desk, no one ever said no. Every one of them understood the importance of total mind/body health and the success of their employees. I say I’ve been fortunate to have this in my working life because I completely lack this kind of self-monitoring in my non-working life.
That’s why I’ve been having a bit of a crisis. And why I cracked just days before the add/drop deadline. After leaving work early feeling very off, I made a call to my school’s Financial Aid Office, the Bursar’s Office, and to the manager of my program. In less than an hour I had dropped a course. And with it, gain a lot more time to focus on my day job, the one course I was taking, and myself.
That was the positive side. The not so positive was that, in the same hour I also lost my part-time status, my loan, and had to come up with enough money out of pocket to pay for the one class I kept. This might not seem like the end of the world to some. But my personality doesn’t let me quit, even when things suck (unless it’s roller derby, but that’s another story for another day). I’ve pushed through a lot of stupid, painful experiences all in the name of finishing what I started.
That isn’t always the healthiest approach to life.
So here I am now, on the other side of a decision that had, at first, felt shameful and undignified. But what matters is that now I can focus all my energy on one class and kick it’s ass while still having time to take care of me. I think librarianship is the path of overachievers everywhere. We’re all looking to create the next great program, the best big movement, the next hot idea. But more importantly, we are looking to take all that pent-up energy to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.
Self-care in school is one of the most important points I can stress to anyone, no matter the amount of responsibilities. What we can handle personally may be more (or less) than another person. And how fast, or slowly, you graduate with a degree isn’t a testament to your professional or academic abilities. So if two classes is too much, drop down to one. If you can’t make that conference, join that committee, serve on that board, don’t. You are going to be ok.
I am going to be ok.