I read once that thinking about other people’s family Christmases is similar to thinking about other peoples sex lives – we think everyone else is having a much better time than we are.
This is a particularly relevant comparison for me because I used to put a lot of time and energy into creating a family Christmas worthy of a spread in a Martha Stewart magazine. There is a lot of this when comparing my working life as a Librarian with others, but especially when comparing my experience as a blogger and also as a content curator.
There are some days where if I spend too much time reading other blogs and links on twitter, then my self esteem starts to slip a little. Initially everything I am reading is inspiring and I get a buzz from all the ideas and things I am eager to adopt …but then, eerily, that excited feeling is tempered by a real sense of weight and guilt. Other bloggers present as articulate, witty and uber intelligent, when looking back at my own efforts I feel proud of the enthusiasm I expressed but not the delivery. The guilt creeps in when I think about the projects I have started, with every intention of keeping them updated, but then they fell by the wayside.
Which brings me back to why did I start a blog in the first place? what was the purpose of it? who was I trying to reach? When I couldn’t come up with any clear answers I realized that I didn’t plan my blog properly, and if I am honest I didn’t plan at all. My blog was a sort of personal journal where I could share the enthusiasm I felt for all the great books I was discovering. I felt like I would literally burst if I didn’t get it out. The wonderful connections I made with amazing, generous librarians, teachers, authors and publishers fueled my enthusiasm for blogging and sustained me through the process.
I know I am not alone when I reflect rather immodestly, that I write brilliant blog posts every single day…but only in my head…when standing in the shower, or going about my work, or thinking late at night. Sitting down and actually typing a post is far more difficult. The delete button is a good friend. I have lost track of the number of posts I have started and abandoned.
Am I being too hard on myself?
I work really, really hard every day in my working life and pour a lot of energy and passion into everything I do. Seeing a child turned onto reading is a thrill, putting things in place that help that process along is worthy and important. My school is developing a digital collection of ebooks and audiobooks. This project took a lot of time and energy, more than I could ever have anticipated, it was the special project I took on in addition to my main role, and it grew like Godzilla. There is so much in this experience that I believe other School Librarians could benefit from, in fact there is an element of advocacy there in making what is unchartered territory for some, more navigable. Taking on that project and running with it, perhaps ‘above and beyond’ what was being asked of me, was the reason I no longer had time to blog and barely any time to keep up with twitter.
My gut feeling is that I would really love to be able to share what I am learning and interact more, but I did stagger to the end of 2013 feeling I had stretched myself too thinly across too many activities. I ended the year worrying about the quality of my work.
There are things I need to improve on.
Like other Librarians I spend many hours away from work, working. I read a ton of books so I can enthusiastically talk about them with students. I laugh when students say they think it must be fun being a Librarian because you can read all day…if only! I love to read and I want to share what I read with my students so reading in personal time is not a chore or a hardship… I am a reader so I would be reading anyway. When I add up the time spent following reviews and exploring links on Twitter, it is for my own knowledge, professional development and pleasure. The other time spent on updating my content curation projects, emailing teachers and students and creating material for displays, is staggering. This is where I also beat myself up because when I read the blogs of others as it feels like they achieve all these things in a working day, and then still have time to share in a myriad of ways. Even so somedays I have to remind myself that I get paid by the hour, I am not on a salary, so every personal hour I spend on work is time I have taken away from my family and myself. This is time I have chosen to spend, paid or not, because I love what I do and I want to do things well.
It is a choice, I could walk out of the Library door at night and not do anything until walking in again the next day, but that isn’t ‘how I roll’, and I suspect many other school librarians feel the same way.
My goal for 2014 is to be more student focused. Being student-focused means making everything I do about the kids and what they need and not about the tools, the collection, the ‘stuff’. Does that include trimming back my online life, so I have more time to do things I need to do, well, instead of quickly?
How do I get balance between work, home and family and my PLN?
How do you do it?