For the first time in my academic career, I dropped a course this semester. I came into the fall pretty nervous about the hectic-ness at work as my library district is moving and opening a new library, but I thought with some discipline I could manage the courses I selected. Right before the drop deadline, I was totally honest with myself and knew I needed to drop a course and add back a more manageable one. It was humbling for me to accept that sometimes I have to adjust the plan that I’ve made for myself and go in new directions for the sake of my wellbeing.
When I reached out to my advisor to coordinate the shuffle, I said that I did not have the capacity to perform as well as I would like in the course I’d like to drop. I did not say that I’m feeling terribly overwhelmed looking at the semester ahead and don’t think with the homework time my schedule allows I’ll be able to grasp, much less master, the course content. Both are true and spoke to my personal bandwidth.
Over the years, I have tried to build my self-awareness of when enough is enough in terms of what I can take on but respecting those limits remains a challenge. In libraries especially, because the work is enjoyable for me personally, I find myself becoming so excited about all of the possibilities and wanting to “do it all”. There are well advised warnings from other professionals to not surrender yourself to vocational awe or toxic positivity and how it is easy in libraries to sacrifice other parts of your life for this job.
I’m trying to acknowledge this in the context of library school and use the experience of dropping the course as a learning experience in what my bandwidth actually is. Despite knowing that it is totally acceptable to drop a course because ‘it’s not a good fit’ or I might have troubles with it or even fail it, I still felt terrible about dropping it. Thoughts bounced around my head, “you wasted the professor’s time”; “you didn’t even give the course a fair chance”; “you’re not sticking to your degree plan”, etc. I was pretty down on myself for making a decision where I admitted I couldn’t do something and I needed to try something else.
But I’m here to tell myself, and you, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with dropping a course. Sometimes you can’t do it all and you have to reexamine your priorities for taking a course. Is the amount of time you’d be putting in versus the skills or knowledge you’d gain from it worth it? If yes, great, but if not, there is nothing wrong with saying “I need to take myself in a different direction.”
Taylor Worsham is from Gunnison, Colorado and is currently pursuing her MLS from Emporia State University’s distance program. After studying communication and political science for her undergrad at Western Colorado University, she worked briefly in marketing communications before finding her true calling in working in public libraries. Her current position as an adult services coordinator for Gunnison County Libraries focuses on public relations, programming, collection development, and circulation. In the future she hopes to expand her career to include more outreach and leadership duties. Outside of work and school, Taylor enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, traveling, photography, and reading contemporary fiction.