Sunday, June 25, 2017

Realizations (March 13, 2016)


I just wanted to post something I wrote after I resigned from my first job in Manila. It was also the first time I experienced burnout. I certainly feel better now than I did then. I am in my second (and last) year of graduate school and I'll focus first on this one before fully focusing on my next job search.


Life after the board exam was pretty hard. Working and realizing how difficult it is to make a living and support yourself. Coming to realizations about life and making mistakes along the way. I may have had the license, but starting on the real world with my first official job as a *librarian*, I was pretty clueless most of the time. I may have passed subjects on Management, Reference, Cataloging, Indexing, IT - but theory is very different from application. I may have aced the Management exam but handling people for the first time, even if they were only student assistants, was daunting. I admit that maybe I got the results of the board exam too much into my head: I had thought I could make it alone. Now I think differently, I think it is best to start a job where there are others to teach you the processes and minute aspects of the things a library must do.

Librarianship isn't really known here. No one really knows what librarians do except librarians, which is both an advantage and disadvantage. One, you can do anything you want and since other people don't really know things like accessioning and cataloging, they don't generally care about it because they're not familiar with it. The problem is they can't understand the work and think that its easy, and its difficult sometimes explaining it. Another is most people think you're doing nothing when there is so much to do. Sometimes they think that you're the problem but sadly, they don't understand because they don't understand what you do.

I admit I was kind of naive, thinking about being finally independent, being away from home and the people I knew. I did, learn a lot about having to make a living (one, it is hard) and feeding yourself. But after some time it felt like my life only revolved around work and nothing else, because I didn't have friends. I get along okay with my coworkers, but there is a line between personal and professional and I find it hard to get to know or get closer other people. But then I've soon realized that I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends - back home. Manila is hard to live in if you don't have a lot of supporting people around, and I took that for granted when I was back home.

I was pretty disillusioned and disappointed, after finding myself sometimes crying alone from the loneliness and homesickness. Is this what life is about? After toiling away for years in school, you are expected to toil away on a lifeless job again, not having the time for the things that used to fulfill you? There was a time I felt like a robot. I know that it isn't in the job, I just felt that I didn't know how to balance things like work and life. I couldn't meet imagined expectations from others and myself.

I realized that you can have money, a good place to live in, and food, but if you don't have people you value around, you will still feel sad. That's when I realized the things you always hear but often overlook are true - that people are more important than things, to let people you love feel that you value them while they're still around. I don't mean to sound so pessimistic, but everyone will die. Everyone I know will die including me.

I made a mistake once of breaking down and pouring my heart out to a colleague because I had no one else to talk to. Should not have done that! She's telling me that she expects a lot more from me than what I deliver, that I need to learn how to take charge of people, and inside I was desperate. Then How!? Please teach me how. Then when my performance evaluation came I was criticized for letting personal concerns affect my work. I felt cold. I know it is so childish and unprofessional but I was so depressed. Wow, what a realization to keep your personal and work life separate, but how can you also work if your problems are affecting you? Its like a weird  paradox… you are confused, lonely, and clueless with your job, and that affects you personally, and work will suffer and things only get worse in a never-ending cycle. At one point you see that you need to go because you're a wreck to yourself and you have no value to the organization anymore.

It struck me, that more than anything I wanted someone to care for me and not only my work at which I am failing. I am no longer happy and the work and me will only get worse if I don't get out soon. I feel like shit writing all these, but then it was only my first job and I will get the hang of it with experience.

I improved but a lot of my confusion came from not knowing what to do or where to start. Its hard also if there are no other librarians who understand your work.

I've learned that no organization is perfect. Even if you're in a religious place like a church or a temple! One should be careful in choosing a job, research thoroughly, and not just take the first job offered without all the information. For me, it's also a bad idea to start during a time where everyone is stressed or very busy with a project or deadline.

I've learned that getting along well with colleagues is important, as important as your knowledge of the work. You need to work together as a team to get things done. And being new is a challenge because you have to also work in adapting to a different culture and methods of work. There was major change, since it was a totally different culture (Chinese Buddhist) from what I was used to. From eating, the rigid schedule, the religion - but it was also a fun and invaluable learning experience.

But in the end, I am still so grateful for everything I've learned. I've had the rare (and lucky) experience of working in a Buddhist temple. Buddhism is one of my favorite subjects and I've met and learned from amazing people too. Now that I understand it better, I really respect them because you can see people practice what they preach. I still want to stay connected with the Buddhist community. I will forever miss the library and the books.


Nevertheless, life goes on. I am open to what the universe holds. Life has so much more in store for me.

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