Library school (heck, graduate school in general) can be an all-consuming time-suck, if you let it become that. Even in my 1.5 semesters of library school (plus all of the time in my first master’s program), I have come to realize the importance of community and relationships in helping me survive (and thrive!). Perhaps no relationship can be more helpful during this time than the one we form with our partner(s), spouse, significant other, partner in crime, etc.! No matter what we call them, they can provide valuable insights and hard-nosed truths in ways that no one else can. I have been lucky enough to be with my partner for almost 5 years (and married for over 2); and he is a major source of inspiration on the hardest days and a font of joy on the days of celebration. However, of course, grad school can be a test of any relationship, your most intimate ones included. I have learned some valuable lessons about being both partnered AND being in graduate school and I want to pass those along.
I say prioritize and I mean it in the context of both your personal life and your academic life. It’s not enough to know that you have 200 pages of reading and in what order you need to read them. You need to know how those 200 pages all fit into the bigger picture of your life. Sometimes this may mean working ahead when your partner is out of town or figuring exactly how to balance your weekly movie date night with meeting with your group for a big group project you are working on. Learning that balance now will serve you well not only with your partner, but also with future bosses and instructors.
Self Care Doesn’t Have to Be a Solo Activity
Spending your down time with your partner can be an excellent exercise in self care. Find activities that you all enjoy and also find rejuvenating. They can be as adrenaline-packed as partnered skydiving or as low-key as baking a cake in your kitchen. The key is finding something that works for the both of you. Not only will this help you step away from the stress of the latest group project or the packed schedule that the end of the semester can bring; but it will help you grow in your relationship and in your academics, making sure that both your mind AND your body are strong.
Sometimes, if you are lucky, you won’t be the only one working on a degree. My partner will be starting both a Master of Social Work program and a Library Science program in the fall and we are already planning out our study dates. Not only will it be comforting to have a fellow student to commiserate and celebrate with, but it also gives you a partner to encourage you when your stack of reading looks never-ending. Even if your partner isn’t pursuing new academic goals, finding ways to pair with them when they are working on other personal goals is a good way to make sure that you are paying the right amount of attention to both school and your personal life.
Nick Dean is a first-year master’s student in the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) at Emporia State University. Nick currently works as an academic advisor at a medical school in Kansas City.