The Benefits of Taking a Break
During the past two years, my professional life has had its share of ups and downs. As part of this, I actually spent ten months not working in a library at all. I got my MLS right out of undergrad and after spending a year looking for my first position, I spent five years working in various library systems. And I enjoyed what I was doing . . . mostly. But I realized that I had lost a lot of my enthusiasm for libraryland. I felt so cynical and burned-out. It was like I could only see the limitations and the disadvantages of whatever project I was working on, could only see the laziness and disrespect of patrons. I didn't want to do something that I used to love.
So I took a break. I tried my hand at writing a teen novel; I spent a lot of time with my family; I took a part-time job at a crafts store. But I slowly grew to realize that I missed working in a library. Now that I've been in a new position for nearly two months, I've realized that my break was truly a good decision on my part. It's given me a new sense of energy and excitement for the library profession. Plus, it's taught me to better handle stress and politics, something that there's plenty of in any job!
If you're feeling like I felt, and wondering if perhaps you should take some time away from libraryland, allow me to offer you the benefit of my wisdom without the burden of my advice.
You might not have the option to just up and quit your job. I was lucky in that I was able to get financial support from my family to allow me to do this. I realize that 'taking a break' is easier to say than do. But if you're struggling professionally, I really recommend taking the time for a sabbatical. You might discover that it's time to try something else, or you might get fired up about being a librarian and want to come back. It was a scary time for me, but I'm so thankful that I did it in retrospect. So why not think about it?
Here are some links to articles that discuss burnout and stress and how to deal with them:
Job Burnout: Know the Signs and Symptoms
Running on Empty: Dealing with Burnout in the Library Setting
Surviving Jobs You Loathe
Nicole's Burnout Blues