To All The Introverts

Hello beautiful kittens, I hope you are well! Here it is all good, just working away and juggling the various aspects of life: work, partner, looking after a lovely cat, trying to maintain a social life, looking to buy a house and getting ripped by the banking system, etc. Yes, this post is not going to be nice and fluffy.

Lately, I have been experiencing some issues with my mental health: I don’t want to say that I am depressed, but certainly, all that is going on in the world, doesn’t help.

In the past

Before lockdown, I just wanted to work in libraries. My first career was in a legal firm: I understood that I didn’t want to do it after a couple of months working as a trainee in a legal firm – had to work with solicitors, deal with clients and go to court. It was a cutthroat career and I felt it wasn’t for me.

Then I moved to the UK and the only jobs I could get were in hospitality: a restaurant and then a very popular pub in a small town. Have you ever worked in hospitality? If yes, you know it has many pros, like being able to leave work issues outside of your life. But it has many cons: from difficult shifts (in one of the places I had to clock in at 3am, having to get up at 2am) to having to deal with the weird requests of customers that never seem to be happy even if you bring them exactly what they want.

However, the main issue with hospitality, as a vegan, is that you have to serve dead animals – and you can’t say anything! Also, the chaos. The total chaos coming from not only customers but also staff and management. I didn’t mind the interaction with customers, but it wasn’t an easy task. And some of the staff/management were quite undermining and also the little groups that used to form where management used to give better shifts to their friends.

So there I was, looking for another career change: something that wouldn’t involve serving carcasses and would seek some more calm in the day.

On the library path

Looking at job offers, I saw that there were quite a lot involving libraries and that seemed to just be perfect! No dead animals, a quiet place, books. Since I was a little girl, I loved reading and libraries: once, when I was a teenager, my aunt took my cousin and I on a tour of some libraries and that was one great day: my cousin didn’t enjoy it much (her being more of a “disco girl”) but I LOVED it! I also saw that there was a university postgraduate course on Libraries and Information Studies and I thought I could do it: just a great decision, as I made many friends and it helped me get my first library job as a Library Assistant in a public library.

I really loved it – helping people find the right books as well as helping when they had IT issues. At some point, my coursemates from the university were working on an additional qualification, the Chartership from CILIP (Chartered Institute of Libraries and Information Professionals): as part of the work toward this, one has to choose some skills to improve, such as cataloguing, leadership skills, archiving etc. In the library I was working in, there was a local studies and archive department too and I was very much interested in it so I got some training from the Local Studies Librarian. Little did I know that this would have been my next step in my library career! Local Studies meant research and organising events and promoting the library services. It seemed unreal I could land such a cool job. Next thing I know, I got an interview for when the Local Studies Librarian retired…and I got the job! I couldn’t believe my luck.

When I started on this new venture, I was so excited: tried to learn as much as I could, attended conferences, webinars and online courses (yes, I love to learn new things) while working and doing research. However, the desk from where I am working is in a public room that people use to access public PCs in the library and this means that when people have some issues with IT they’re going to ask me. And it happens a lot. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love helping people and it is great being able to answer queries. Although not in my job description, I set up a day at the end of the week to help people that need more help with computers, tablets and phones, as 1-to-1 sessions that are totally free. And it makes me happy when people come to my sessions and you can see the progress they’re making and all.

To be honest though, I am one of those people that really loved working from home: I was doing research, organised online courses and I was experimenting with some creative ways to promote our resources using graphic design. And it was working really well. Until we were required to “go back”. With other colleagues, we have tried to tell upper management that working from home would be much more beneficial to conduct our tasks – especially for research and statistics, even having 2 days working from home, where we could perform said tasks from home and be able to dedicate the three days at the library for events and courses. Nothing. Change won’t come from them. They are actually asking us to do more hours, with less staff and without a real need to do so. Just because they want to go back to “before”.

Change is not happening

How mental can this be? The pandemic showed that for some professions it is possible working from home: my team has shown that we can do research from home while organising events and providing services for the community.

Some organisations are also experimenting with a 4-day week and we got an email saying that our managers were considering this – a few weeks later another email arrived to say that they did consider this but didn’t think it would work for our service. I’m sure they thought about that a lot…not.

In the past, people were working 6 days per week, if not 7. But things changed. Whether we want it or not.

With another colleague, we applied for flexible working: despite being totally supported by our line managers, both applications were rejected.

Upper management wants us always available to people for as much time as possible.

Change won’t happen with the current management.

For the introverts

This is really difficult to cope with as an introvert: the interruptions from patrons and staff really drain my mental energy.

During lockdown, I used to get up at 6:30am, go for a run, do around 30-45minutes of yoga, have a shower, make breakfast and be ready for work by 8:55am. Then, after work, I went for a long walk, prepare dinner, clean a bit, write and read.

Now I barely manage to get out of bed for 7:30am, do 10-15min of yoga, shower, wear work clothes, have breakfast and go to work to then come back, prepare dinner and sit on the sofa for the rest of the evening. I manage some cleaning once a week and on another day I try to write. It is more and more difficult to read. It seems that I am just drained.

Similarly, it’s so difficult to maintain a social life: I see my friends once every couple of months and it takes me that time to recharge and go out again. Even answering texts is such a strain: I haven’t replied to a friend since November and I feel really bad about this, but then time is passing and it’s always more awkward answering which makes it even more straining – it’s a vicious circle.

I feel that there is a domino effect in action with me being tired because of work and it affects my personal life.

A 4-day week would already be a start, but the best option for me would be working 3 days from home and 2 at the library. Is it mad? Maybe for a pre-pandemic society, but not to the current one.

I love my job as I enjoy the research aspect and organising new events. All doable from home. Then 2 days dedicated to the more customer-related tasks. Sometimes I look at job alerts, and think if I could change my job: but the position I currently am is pretty sweet, with good colleagues, supportive line managers and a sugarload of research. And there are no job that are similar to mine that are also fully remote.

When I go to work I feel I am alone in this sentiment and it seems that all my colleagues are coping much better than I am. But then I go to Instagram and Twitter and I see that there are actually many people that feel the same and I am a bit less alone in this struggle.

Keep strong

If you are in the same situation, know that I am with you. I send you all the support. We can do it: we will find a way. Whether it’s changing jobs or finding a new balance in our current positions or another creative solution.

And maybe it will be us who will help change the system.

Stay introverted!



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