Each year the ER&L conference, or Austin, or just time to myself after the busy semester start, or all three bring me to a precipice of reflection, questioning, and, sometimes, a crisis of conscience with my profession. In my first year, this was a great feeling. As a new ERL, I was eager to connect with like minds, and feel both grounded and unbounded in my ideas. Year two was more tumultuous. Upon reflection, I realize I had been much more confused, was going through much more learning and change, and experiencing dead ends and false starts to so many ideas. Frustrated. This year, my third ER&L conference and my first presenting, I’m trying to have a purposefully different experience.
On the plane I was reading a magazine article about Millennials and the changing nature of work and expectations of work. The piece described a series of stories where professionals left their corporate or tech work for completely different professions or activites. Anticipating how ER&L would get me questioning in a similar way, I wondered what it would look like if I wasn’t using my strengths and talents to be an ERL, or a librarian at all for that matter. Just after putting the article down, I got into a conversation with a leadership executive coach in the seat next to me. We talked strengths and he encouraged me to reflect on, make a list even, of the things I want to get out of this conference. Even if it was just one thing. The first one thing that came to mind was simply to remain steady and mindful, let frustration come and go, to learn, observe, and listen, simply. I also plan to take Bonnie’s encouraging advice to ‘expand my neighborhood’. I’ll let you know how it goes, but as I begin day two, so far so good.