The Debut of the Let’s Talk About It Series
I want to start my Let’s Talk About It Series. This series will be my thoughts on a variety of librarianship topics. I want this to be an opportunity for me to flesh out my opinions.
I realize that the first topic that I want to write about comes from a place of privilege. Many library workers did not have the opportunity to work from home, and I acknowledge this injustice. I genuinely wish that everyone could have stayed home during the start of this pandemic to take care of themselves and their families truly.
Let’s Talk About It
The first series topic is about my “Re-entry Plan” into the academic library workspace. This week will be the first time since the pandemic started that I will be expected to work full time in the library. Last Fall, I started working remotely full time then when the semester began, we just had to work 2 to 3 times a week in person unless we had a medical reason why we could not work in person. So Fall 2020, I did a hybrid working model, but I could still teach virtually and meet with students for research consultation virtually. Then the semester ended early, and we were told to work remotely full time after Thanksgiving. During this time of working from home, I have enjoyed this time away from the library. I realized that I do miss working from home. After my first son was born, I was able to work from home, so this was not new to me. Also, when I worked at SUNY Upstate Health Sciences Library, we had a flexible work arrangement where we could work from home some days. Since then, I have been asking employers if they have a flexible work arrangement policy or plan, and unfortunately, none of them had one. I heard most from administrators that I don’t think that we can do our jobs efficiently from home, ha the pandemic told us otherwise. We found out we can have successful conferences virtually as well.
Did we not learn anything?!
Now we are told that we are going back to “normal.” When I write this, my sentiments are not unique, that I don’t want to go back to “normal.” I think that what we learned during this pandemic should be applied to make our work situations better. I have so many questions in regards to this rush to return to “normal.” Normal for who? Who was “normal” benefitting? Why aren’t we considering flexible work arrangements? When most of us can do our jobs from home, and we are doing it during a pandemic. I am amazed at how much I produced during this pandemic. If I didn’t have the stress of the pandemic, juggling my parenting responsibilities, worried about my family’s safety, and all the other things that I have to deal with regularly, I think I would have been able to do more of what I wanted to do. But since we live in a capitalist society, we must keep producing to be compensated for our work. Therefore, I learned that I have to build in time to reflect and process my day.
Some Context For This Post
Anyway, I have been reflecting on how I will do a better job of taking care of myself, knowing that I have to navigate whiteness in person now. The article Office Culture Is So Unwelcoming To Black Employees, They Don’t Want To Go Back written by Monica Torres resonated with me, which prompted this blog post. Also, Mallory Rawls posted Rush to Return to Normal? How Mindfulness Can Help! on the Mindfulinlis website reminded me to reflect and plan to do better for the coming academic year. I don’t want to act like nothing happened to have some normalcy; I want to apply the lessons learned to my everyday life. And I think that people in power should do the same.
So I decided to create a “Re-entry plan” to take better care of myself. I don’t want to lose what I have gained during this pandemic. Let me be honest, I will have to deal with microaggressions, and I will need the time to process, heal, and move forward in a way that will be beneficial for me. I want this plan to be a living document. There will be things added to it for sure.
My Re-Entry Plan
- Keep my virtual weekly chat with my friends. Since the start of the pandemic, I have been meeting with my crew virtually every week. Our weekly chats are our way to check in with each other. And I want to keep this going.
- Use my vacation days. Plan this out, and I will be okay with taking mental health days when I need them.
- Continue working on my passion projects like LibVoices and writing.
- Continue my “Self-Care Sundays.” I admit I got this idea from the show Insecure, and I wanted it to be a fundamental practice. On Sundays, I choose to do my body scrub, which makes me feel so relaxed. I feel like this practice is honoring my body and loving the skin that I am in.
- Take walks and allow myself time outside of the Library.
- Start my day with my Shine app Thanks to AAMLA I have a year subscription.
Sadly, we want to act like things did not happen just to run from any sense of discomfort in America. Now is the time to make our workplaces better for ALL. What lessons have you learned during this time? What have you unlearned during this time? How will you take better care of yourself? I look forward to reading your comments. Take care of yourself.