I am taking a class this summer on Marketing and Advocacy for
Libraries and the professor has opened the forum with a posting on
"Change" focusing on how much libraries have changed over the course
of time and how much change is ahead of us. I don't think this
concept is for libraries alone, but that we all constantly grow,
evolve and change over time. Sometimes it can be a sharp jolt and a
shock to our system. Other times it can be a gradual process, so slow
that we don't even realize that it has occurred.
I know that for the longest time I hated change. We all do to a
certain degree, but I think I was particularly fearful of the unknown.
When I was young my family moved often. Not for a job, or a better
opportunity, but because my step-mother was one of those people who
thought that the grass was greener somewhere else. Things were always
going to be better in a new town, or a new state. They never were.
There was one calendar year which was particularly bad: I attended 5
different elementary schools, spanning three states. I still have
issues with my multiplication tables (7s and 8s mostly), and I blame the constant interruption of my 4th grade education. We left behind possessions, equity in houses, purchased then quickly sold, and we lost friends.
It was hard being the new person...constantly. Philadelphia, where we
lived most of the time, and where I am "from" is not a place that gets
many new people. People are born and die never leaving their neighborhoods. To this day, most of our family lives within an hour of each other.
For better or worse, this is part of what made me who I am.
14 years ago, Fred was sent to TX to help open the DFW Air Hub for
UPS. Madelaine and I went to visit and we liked it well enough, but when UPS asked Fred to make Dallas his home, it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I was physically ill. I couldn't eat or sleep. How could I go someplace where I knew
no one? How could I raise our children without our family close by
for help? The icing on the cake was when I learned that not only was
I moving to TX, but I was moving in my last trimester of pregnancy.
Well, we moved. And I lived. And things were good...as a matter of
fact, things seemed to improve. I grew up, Fred and my marriage grew
and deepened, the kids blossomed. All was well.
As the kids got older and went off to school, I got a part time job at
our local library. This lead to an interest in library school and the changes of going back to school and being the new person all over again...only this time I was approaching 40. Again, while I still felt the initial discomfort of change, the end result was great. I started thinking that change might not be so bad after all.
Soon after starting library school I changed jobs and then was promoted when I obtained my degree. For four years I worked and every year they checked the box on my annual review that said I was an “agent of change." Who would have thought? Me, embracing and promoting change! With this in mind, I inflicted another change on my life....the PhD program. This one hurt a bit more than I expected. I spent a great deal of time crying and doubting abilities. The demands were different, but I grew to demand the same things of myself. My thought process changed along with me.
Sadly the last nine months of my life have brought about another series of changes. Not all of them self initiated. Leaving my former job was a change that I needed to make, and had known that for a while, but I was unwilling. I didn't want to give up the security, the money and the friendships that job had afforded. So, life threw me a curve and told me it was time to change, regardless of my readiness. Just like dominoes, there were more changes, including the one I currently face.
In two weeks I will leave my temporary job and move on to a new position. There will be changes and anxiety involved, but I am looking forward to it. But I worry a bit too. Am I turning into the person who thinks the grass will be greener elsewhere? While I don't want to be stuck in a quagmire of fear and inability to accept and be part of change, I don't want to be a job hopper either.
We all know things change but I think we are more comfortable when we have initiated them and much less so when they are thrust upon us. No one wants to be at the mercy of another and to be at the mercy of random acts of fate just seems horribly cruel. At the same time there is some freedom in that, isn’t there?
Oddly enough...as I sit writing this blog, an email alert just popped in my window. Someone just sent me the following quote from Thomas Jefferson:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. Thomas Jefferson.