Wednesday, June 08, 2005

In which you are subjected to wordy contemplation of my professional transformation...

A comment on my last post made me think about my chosen profession, librarianship. To use the word “chosen” is probably giving myself too much credit, as I sort of found myself in the library world without even trying very hard.

I originally started out as a social worker. I figured, I like helping people. I like to problem solve. I LOVE making tons of dough. Social work, here I come!

(as you can see, in a brilliant and cunning move I traded one high-paying profession for another)

I went through all the necessary undergraduate and graduate schooling and became a social worker (yes, most of them do go to school “for that”. I add this comment after years of enduring, “You have to go to school for THAT?” Wait a minute—that still happens! *slaps forehead*)

Worked with mentally ill teenagers, worked with families and abused children. Loved the people, hated the circumstances they suffered. Got burned out pretty quickly. Couldn’t see myself social working for 30 more years.

Depression set in.

So what did I do when the going got tough? That’s right, I QUIT! And OF COURSE I gave appropriate notice. I’m professional to the bitter end.

But no, I didn’t have another job lined up. At the time, we could live on my husband’s salary, so I was lucky. There was no, holy crap! Time to stock up on Ramen! I was free to quit, pack up my office, and slip blissfully into Days Full of Nothingness.

I threw myself into the culinary arts. I took cake decorating classes and baked every week. I would spend hours planning elaborate menus for the week, then leisurely search the Shoppers Food Warehouse for the ingredients. Having all the time in the world allows you to get very intimate with the bread selection at your favorite store, and to do grape-by-grape comparisons of two bunches of red globes. In the car on the way home I would gleefully review how much I had saved by using coupons. Oh yeah, baby. My husband was going to be PSYCHED that I was unemployed.

This was fun for about a month. Then I found myself staring out the window during the day, wondering about the lives and destinations of every person I saw.

Me: (talking to random passerby) Oh yeah, look at you driving by in your Saturn. You’ve got someplace important to be, huh? Well, not me. I’m free as a bird! FREEEEEE AS A BIRD!”

I think I was standing in the kitchen chanting this when my husband got home. Here’s how the inevitable conversation went:

(husband holding me, speaking in soothing tones)

Husband: Hey! I love that song.


Husband: (scratches head) Hmmm... sounds like maybe you’re ready to go back to work.


Husband: Do you want to look for another social work job?


Husband: Well, what would make you happy?

Me: (tearful gasp) I think I want to be a librarian!

Husband: Huh?

Me: Huh?

Yeah, it really happened like that. Cue the heavenly light and angels singing! I was destined to be a librarian!

Now, I love my work. But there are other things I have considered, and then rejected. Behold:

Top 5 Careers Considered and Rejected, with Explanation:

5. Raise Pygmy goats

Rejected: because I live in a town house.

4. Seeing Eye Dog trainer

Rejected: because this is for volunteers. No money, honey.

3. Landscape architecture

Rejected: because I am the world’s worst measurer. From watching Landscapers’ Challenge on HGTV, I see that accurate measuring is Very Important. Also, I sunburn very easily.

2. Chef

Rejected: because I do not want to work every weekend. Also, chefs frequently suffer burns on their hands and arms, as I learned by reading the excellent Kitchen Confidential. This could adversely affect my chances of becoming a hand model one day.

1. Bring to fruition a brilliant concept in which a computer can tell people which books they might enjoy!

Rejected: because this already exists., NoveList, etc. Not to mention that this is part of a librarian's job. It's called readers' advisory. Seriously! I do not make these things up!

So the decision to become a librarian was made one day from the depths of despair. Even though I'd worked in libraries all through high school and college and grad school, it never occured to me that libraries were my destiny. See? All it took was a guy driving by in a Saturn to inspire a moment of life-changing clarity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

waiting for that moment of clarity... Thinking of getting married. lol

10:09 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

Hi! I know this comment may seem odd because you wrote this post two years ago, but I really enjoyed reading it. I'm seriously considering going back to school for an MLS, and I always find it fascinating to hear how others chose to enter the profession. (I love the rest of your blog, too!)

10:45 AM  

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