So it is the end of LIS Mental Health Week, and I think it is the perfect time to talk about my culture shock, and the effect that has played on my mental health. Now before I begin, I must say that school libraries are a beast of their own. I loved the students, but the particular district I was in was soul sucking. Anyone who followed me on any social media probably saw all those posts. So I’m not trying to paint school libraries as a beautiful utopia in comparison to academia. Perhaps it’s the pain you know vs. the one you don’t, ya know? Like my mom is an English teacher, I took education classes, I did the school library track, I did field experience in two different high schools….I was more prepared for the shenanigans of K-12 life than I was/am for academic life.

But holy shit man….academia is the pits. Now I know it’s partly a big institution thing, and partly a “we hate collaboration/not in my job description” culture thing, but some days I don’t want to rationalize all the reasons I’m upset. Sometimes I just am upset.

But let me break it down some more. My workplace, in my perception, has little to no community. Like some people are friends in that way that like begets like. But outside of that? Desert. Now I know three example of schools don’t make enough experience to make any super big claims, but even combined with my friends at other libraries, and schools in general, K-12 people love to get together. Perhaps it’s the “you understand my suffering” sort of bonding, but people get super close. Proximity helps of course. You see the same people outside your room, there are only 3 lunch periods you’ll see the same people everyday. Not to mention staff meetings every month. Thank God for shared offices because if I had an office to myself on top of everything I’d be crying everyday.

Which I think plays a big role in the lack of cooperation all around. Not to get all NickJr™ but like the power of friendship goes a long way when it comes to working together. And most days it feels like I’m throwing myself against a wall. I never thought of myself as a particularly optimistic person, but holy cow I feel like Pollyanna when it comes to my expectations of collaboration (or at the very least cooperation) coming into this. As you can imagine, it’s hella exhausting.

And then there is the racial fatigue. Oh my lord. That could be (and might very well be) a post on its own. Even in my stupidly conservative school (where things like “let’s go back to 60s values” and “Obama needs to stop letting the illegals into our country” was said with no irony) treated me better than where I am now.

So my mental health….has not been great. There’s more to be said of course. But frankly I do not have the spoons to do so. So I shall stop here.


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