If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you may have noticed that I disappeared (pretty suddenly) a few months ago. I’ve discussed my unconventional path on the blog before, and to put it simply, my schedule just became way too much for me to handle emotionally, mentally, and physically.
I was elated when I was chosen to become a contributing writer for HLS, and even more elated when I was given the honor of taking on the Managing Editor position, especially as a representative of public libraries and youth services. My experience with the blog has given me the opportunity to meet and work with some of the brightest librarians and library students in the field, and allowed me a space to write about topics that I wholeheartedly care about.
Last summer, in addition to becoming Managing Editor of HLS, I also started a second job, and moved into a house, which made for quite the chaotic and overwhelming season. I worked and worked and worked on work for my employers, work for school, and on HLS tasks for what seemed like every single minute of the day (even on weekends), without any sort of sustainable work/life balance. Before I knew it, eight months or so had gone by and I was in a horrible place, and had not carved out any time for myself.
It’s difficult to think back to that season, even though it was only a few months ago, because I’ve taken quite a few steps to create a more sustainable life for myself since then, and it’s made a huge difference in my overall wellbeing. I cut back my hours at one of my jobs, I joined a gym, and with a heavy heart, I had to give up my position at Hack Library School in order to focus on my studies and give myself some semblance of free time.
If I’ve learned anything this past year, there must be some sort of balance. Working myself day in and day out did not do anything to further my career, but exactly the opposite. By failing to take care of my mental and emotional health, I also failed to perform successfully at both of my jobs, and was not able to give the time and energy that my classes required. Be gentle with yourselves. Take breaks if you can. Get some fresh air. Allow yourselves some time for friends and waffles. Listen to Leslie Knope when she says that work must always come third. I never really understood what she meant until now.
Stefanie Molinaro is in the second year of her MLIS studies through Wayne State University’s distance program, with a focus on library services to children. She currently works at two public libraries in the suburbs of Chicago, in the children’s department of both. Stefanie is interested in the intersections between librarianship and social justice work, and some of her career goals include creating consciousness-raising programming for children and teens, and providing library services to incarcerated youth. When Stefanie is not working or studying, she enjoys volunteering at Liberation Library and hanging out with her cat, Lily. You can find her on Twitter at @stefmolinaro.