It’s been kind of a rough Fall Term for me. Beginning a month before classes started, I’ve been swamped. Then classes actually started…. Not pretty. For a few weeks there I came as close to being truly overwhelmed as I ever have. And according to the normal order of things, that’s precisely when more deadlines appeared and my support systems crumbled. But I survived. I’m out of shape, I’ve had a lingering cold for a month now, and I feel like I could sleep for a week, but I survived.
The term (which ends in two weeks) wasn’t all bad, though. There were exhilarating moments, happy moments, and moments of clarity where isolated incidents gelled into identifiable trends. I also started to feel, for the first time, that I might be on the verge of understanding where I fit into the constellation of people and functions and services on my campus. By necessity, my skin is thicker than it was 8 weeks ago; I’ve learned to bury certain fears deep inside of me in order to get things done, only freeing them once I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, replaying my day for analysis, critique, and release. All in all, the prospect of upcoming classes on unfamiliar research topics, or that late-night email from a student in desperate need of help with some impossible research question, or even the task of telling a professor to trust me that students can’t possibly learn everything there is to know about library research in 20 minutes… these things used to paralyze me. Now they cause some anxiety, but nothing to bowl me over.
At this point, I think I’m finally almost qualified to hold the job that I have. And I mean that in all seriousness. My first year here, my amazing co-workers held my hand through everything from class-planning to composing emails. My second year I was able to teach and meet with students and sit at the reference desk with more ease, but I still felt a little like I was pretending to be a librarian and that at any point a student might stand up in the middle of the room and accuse me of being the impostor that I was. And how would I deny it? By showing my diploma? This year, I’ve finally begun to feel that I contribute to the team I work with. I no longer feel like it’s evidence against me if I can’t answer a question; it’s just part of life and reason to thank my lucky stars that I have amazing co-workers to whom I can refer the question.
I can’t wait until qualification blooms into expertise. It’ll happen, but it’ll take time. I’m schooling myself to patience.