Barring any screw-ups of my part or sudden and bizarre roadblocks from the universe at large, this is my last semester of MLIS coursework. In some ways, this will change a lot, and in others, it’s a blip on a radar. I’ve been here before though, on the cusp of graduation, and I have to say, this time is much, much, much better.
Last time I was poised on the brink of graduating, I was terrified. OK, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and in the throes of a full-blown existential crisis didn’t help things too much either. Who would hire me? What could I actually do with a master’s degree in English? Who would I be once school no longer defined who I was? Besides being good at school, what could I offer the world? To say nothing of the personal things I was also sorting through. That semester was marked with panic attacks and frequent tears, and you could not pay me to relive that time. In hindsight, that probably had a lot to do with being 22 and in the midst of Sorting Shit Out, but it felt like being a butterfly emerging from a cocoon and finding that my wings were still wet and crinkled, not enough to take flight with, with the ground looming up fast.
Truthfully, I didn’t hit the ground, but I spent years hovering in a holding pattern of a good-enough job and a good-enough life. Until neither were enough anymore. Things started changing.
I started volunteering in the library, got hired, then started library school. That was good, but it wasn’t enough. I started library school. I quit my other job. Things were a bit lean there for a while, but so much better than they had been. So much. One job led to another, and to my most recent gig. School pressed on. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been tears during this degree too, but grad school is kinda mean like that anyway, and knock on wood, there hasn’t been a panic attack yet.
And now here I am on the verge of graduating. It’s such a huge difference to be almost done with a degree and not have to worry about my employment prospects. I know where I am, have an idea where I’m going, and am open to a few different upward paths. Had I not been in library school, this would probably be my dream job, and it would have been a good one. It is a good one. But I want more, and this time, I know that I am capable of asking for more and getting it. By degree, I’m not yet technically a librarian, but by experience, I’m a lot more comfortable assuming that title and not feeling like an imposter.
Not being in school is going to be strange, though, especially since I’ve been on a semester schedule since, er, 1998, between being a student and being a teacher and then being a student again, but I’m looking forward to being able to delineate my time as I wish. I can take a vacation whenever I want. Not having homework means I can channel my love of learning into whatever I want (right now, learning to spin and sew are my next two goals). I may at some point take a random class at the community college, or I might not, but the choice is mine to make. Right now the plan is to dive into crafting, reading, and in my own way, writing. It’s not that I haven’t had made time for them, but now I get more.
The world awaits me—and this time, I can’t wait to see what it has to offer.