black holes and revelations

A few months back, I posted something supremely moody about my current life aspirations, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

A few days ago, my thoughts finally settled, landed somewhere that felt right.

My Library Science Degree…

is a necessary nuisance. I am a librarian at heart and by nature. Fellow librarians feel a kinship with me. I am good at the work involved, and passionate about things that other people wouldn’t even notice. Like edging books. And having even numbers of Thanksgiving books and Halloween books. And successfully using Google to answer questions. Those things get me all excited inside.

However, I wish there was a professional program for undergrads – like a teaching degree – instead of a Masters program. I am upset about having to go into debt to do the job I know I have to do, the only job I feel comfortable doing, and without the promise of a fat paycheck at the end of the line.

If I could get away without getting an MLS, I would do that. I am here, at library school, because it’s what I have to do to eventually earn my own full-time wages doing a job I am good at. A job I would enjoy.

But that’s it. It’s just a job. If my life takes me somewhere that I need a job, I will be qualified for one. End of story.

My Children’s Literature Degree…

is a labor of love. My classes are so stressful but so divine. I can barely keep my head above water sometimes and then my professors ask me for a little bit more. Librarians are nice, but children’s lit people are my people. It’s like being back in undergrad, studying literature, but this time I’m actually interested in my reading material.

It’s exciting, but the stakes are higher. Every bit of praise from a professor feels triumphant, every bit of reassurance that I am doing a good thing here, is so valuable. Because otherwise, this degree is worthless. I have no intention of getting my PhD, I don’t think you can make a living writing independent research on whatever children’s books suit your fancy, and every other career for those with an MA in Children’s Literature requires perseverance, luck, and fortuitously opened doors.

My program is amazing. Although I am dishing out big $$$ to attend, I feel better about this lost money than my lost MLS credit hours, like it was something I wanted.

But (revelation): I’m not a big, ambitious person. Which is what I think you need to be a mover and shaker in the Children’s Lit world. Ambition and hard work.

My Personal Life…

has always been more important than my professional life. Thoughts of my future professional life make my stomach curl up into knots – I hate playing the career game, the money game, the game of trying to fit yourself into an oddly shaped, professional space for 40 hours a week. It sucks my sense of authenticity and integrity right out of my body.

When I daydream about my future personal life, I occasionally find that spark that drives me to keep on keepin’ on. A home. A garden. A family. A routine. A life.

My favorite kinds of life are the kinds where I have enough time at home to feel like myself.

A 40 hour workweek is not conducive to that kind of life. Playing the ambition/perseverance/risk game is not conducive to that kind of life. Certain kinds of work fit with my personality type (librarian), but at the end of the day, I want to be at home where my real self is.


But if I take a step back from all that, it’s obvious that FEAR is a huge player in all of these important life revelations.

After years of experience and a degree, I will feel comfortable working in a library. It’s the safest profession for me. However, I will always be afraid that my sense of self will change when I am a full-time employee, that working will take something away from who I am.

I don’t want to be an academic because I’m afraid I’m not good enough, and I’m afraid it would be too difficult and taxing. I don’t want to pursue a career that puts me directly in interaction with children’s books because I’ve never done that kind of work before and I don’t know how and that freaks me out.

I want to be at home with my self and the people I love because only then am I almost immune from this pervasive fear that shows up at every step when I’m out in the world and people are judging me.


However, as of four days ago, I’d resigned myself to this fear, really. I would be happy with my current life, enjoying my expensive, pointless degree and doing my best while I skim through my expensive, career-building degree. I would continue to live my life in a way that gives me that sense of personal freedom. I would even make decisions that would forsake my academic career in favor of a little extra cash, so I could reduce stress and increase my nest egg for when I’m ready to pursue those Personal Dreams.

But on Friday, someone threw in a wrench.

Stay tuned…


3 Responses to “black holes and revelations”

  1. I will most definitely stay tuned! Waiting to hear all about it…

  2. I don’t have a full time job, but 2 part time jobs at a minimum of 40 hours a week really has made me lose some sense of myself. I can absolutely say that with 100% certainty. Right now, I need full time work to may the bills, but hell, I do NOT want to forever.

    And Library Science degree should definitely be offered at the undergraduate level. I’ve thought that since day 1 of grad school.


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