It seems like I always say the same thing around this time of the year — how is it the end of the year already?! I still remember exactly what I was doing on December 31, 2017. And it just seemed like yesterday when I finished my first semester of library school.
Now, after a year, I am ¾ way done in my program. In the past year, just when I thought I was getting the hang of balancing work, school and family life, new challenges arose. I can’t say life was difficult, but it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have always been a “rule person,” meaning I always do things following the rules I set for myself in my mind. Yet, I have broken many of these “rules” in 2018 that literally changed my life! I learned that it’s OK to do a lot of things. After all, I was the one who set these rules. And I will share the four most significant ones with you here.
- It’s OK if you didn’t do as well as you expected
I always thought I needed to get an A from every classes I take because I was only working part time that I should have no excuses not to do well in school, or else I would be wasting money. I thought I would be the most happy when I get straight As.
However, what I learned in this past semester was that my grade doesn’t define my intellectual ability, and it certainly doesn’t define who I am. There were times I was so sad when I did my best, and I didn’t get the best grade. Then someone asked me, “What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t get an A from your classes?” I thought for a few seconds, and realized that the worst thing that could happen was nothing serious. And getting one less A certainly wouldn’t affect my career that much. But this rule that I set for myself was actually making my life miserable and causing so much anxiety.
Also, my friend reminded me that sometimes life happens and we just can’t do our best, and it’s OK. We just do what we can do. This was exactly what I needed to know when I had a baby in the middle of the semester. I was not able to focus as well as before and I was so disappointed in myself. I knew I could do better but that was what I could give at that time.
- It’s OK to ask for help from your professors
I have always thought students should just follow the syllabus exactly like what it is. I thought students shouldn’t ask more than what was given as it would be unfair to other students. But I decided I really needed more help this past semester when I was expecting a baby in October. In the beginning of the semester, I told my professors that I was expecting and they were all very helpful in providing all the materials I would need ahead of time. After I had the baby, there was one time I was not able to complete an assignment. I emailed my professor about my struggle and he was very understanding, and accommodated with my needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- It’s OK to say no
Every one tells you to take advantage of every opportunity you can to get experience during library school. Therefore, you sign up for whatever opportunities you see, and you also accept anything library-related work/ voluntary work people ask you. I have learned that, even though there are a lot of good opportunities out there, we need to choose the best ones. I should look at what I want to do in the future, or what I am interested in the most before saying yes to an opportunity. One could be easily overwhelmed with voluntary work by accepting every opportunities out there.
- It’s OK to Take a Break
During undergrad, because of family reason, I took classes non-stop until I graduated. When I first started library school, I planned to do the same so that I could finish school as soon as possible. Then I had a baby in October. I told myself, I could do this. So many other people have kids while in school!
However, I was wrong. The stress from class assignments and taking care of a new baby was too much for me. Besides worrying about the baby, I was also constantly worrying about my class assignments and it was really causing so much anxiety. I learned that everyone is different and that taking a break may be the best for me and my family. Taking a break doesn’t mean I am a failure, but to recharge myself so that I can focus better in the future.
What have you learned in 2018?
Alice Law is a MLIS student at Wayne State University.