Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Breakdown

Last week I had a little bit of a breakdown.

I had had a wonderful turnout at our monthly teen anime club program and I'd successfully engaged a couple of the teens who thought they were too cool for school by asking them what kinds of activities and programs they'd like to see at the library. They exploded with ideas. An internet meme class, video game tournaments, an origami club (and by the way, we needed better origami books at the library)... I was so excited to hear about the stuff they were excited about, but at the end of the night all I could think was:

I'm exhausted. 

I got home that night and felt totally depressed. How could I possibly provide all the things my teens were asking me for? On top of programming for all the other ages that we're doing? And how could I still have time for myself and have a life, too?

Dude, I was freaking out. I was feeling useless and inadequate, which seemed ridiculous since I'd just had 37 teens at a library program.

I needed to remind myself of a few things:

- Librarian shoulders are great for crying on. A fellow librarian might not have magic answers, but he or she can certainly sympathize with you, offer advice, and just maybe make your whole day feel better. When in doubt, reach out.

- A career in librarianship is a marathon, not a sprint. I tend to have lots of ideas (inspired by all of you wonderful librarians and teachers out there). It is impossible to do every idea all at once. Don't try it. Just because I'm not doing it NOW doesn't mean I can't do it someday. It will still be a great idea next month or next year or three years from now.

- I'm still making a positive impact on my community with the things that I'm already doing. Even if I can't do everything I imagine, I am doing something. And it's making my community a better place for kids and teens.

- Programming is not all that matters. Building relationships with our patrons just by engaging them when they come to the library should be a valued part of my job.

- Even if I did offer every single program that my teens suggested, what are the chances they would actually show up for all of them? We've had great success with a few of our programs and we've had some that have completely and totally flopped. This summer, the teens involved in our teen literary magazine BEGGED me to continue having meetings during the school year. Not one person showed up to those programs. This doesn't mean that I should throw my teens' ideas out the window, but just that I need to take those ideas and make them into something that's going to work for my library and my community.

- It's okay to take some time for myself. It's okay to take a break from programs for awhile to get my bearings. It's much better than burning out and being no help to anyone.

And by remembering these things, I'm coming back from my breakdown. I wouldn't say I'm completely better yet (October kinda kicked my butt), but I'm getting there.