Here at HLS we love reflection pieces; we have plenty written after symposiums, conferences, and after our time in library school. To build off the incredible post in honor of LIS Mental Health week, I will put in that calm self-reflection can be a great aid to a stressed out brain. You should totally do it.
Library school is quick, even more so if you are combining it with jobs, family, friends, and the rest of your life as you know it. Reflection is a way to slow down and look around at everything LIS that is happening to you. Sometimes, your school itself offers you a list of prompts or assignments that push you to reflect on your internships, your classes, and your experiences, but unfortunately they don’t really ever accomplish true reflection. True reflection (I say from a crossed leg seated position beneath a waterfall and surrounded by singing birds) can only come from yourself. Only you know yourself intimately enough to know what you should reflect on in your own journey of personal growth. Additionally, whatever answer you write out to meet assignment requirements isn’t going to be close to capturing your actual thoughts (or you may not want to share your actual thoughts with administration). Your real answer isn’t going to be neat, tidy, and packaged for a grader. Most likely it will be a jumbling sprawl of thoughts, memories, hopes, and fears that will take you on a mental adventure that can end in really emotional places.
You already do a bit of minor reflection already. You know those moments. You are washing your hands in a public restroom and remember the MARC record cat joke you saw on Facebook and didn’t get. Next thing you know, you are wondering if you are a bad librarian because you never took cataloging and then realize you have been staring at your reflection for five minutes.
But it is worth taking some time to sit down and just think about it: no stress and no strings attached. It isn’t that difficult either. You need to just think about your past in the scope of whatever you would like to reflect about: classes, jobs, the effect on the rest of your life, whatever you like. Personally, once I emerge from my paddle down the stream of consciousness, I often find myself refocused, refreshed, and recharged. I send those emails I have been putting off. I make those needed changes to my resume. I am able to be just a little less stressed out because my mind is no longer harried by all the shifting aspects of my life.
Below are some generic examples that you can twist and jam into whatever reflection hole is in your head:
- Did that internship/job convince you to make that area your lifelong career path, or never work in that area again?
- Knowing what you know now, would you have taken the same classes?
- What is missing from your knowledge repertoire, based on what you have learned so far?
- How did you stumble during your last interview? Was it a genuine fluke, or something more deeply rooted in who you are as a person? How can you recover, or prevent that from happening again?
- Are you stretching yourself far enough in your networking and professional efforts? What is “far enough”, anyway?
- Are you more public, academic, or special libraries? What do those terms mean to you?
- Could you make better use of your time? Should you consider that maybe “better use of your time” is a bit more relaxation?
Go for it! What you learn about yourself may surprise you.