This is the sixth of our Dispatches from a Distance, a series of short posts intended as a forum for those of us facing disruption in our professional lives, whether that’s working from home or something else, to stay engaged with the community. There is no specific topic or theme for submissions–rather, this is a space to share your thoughts on current projects or ideas which, on any other day, you might have discussed with your deskmate or a co-worker during lunch. These don’t have to be directly in response to the Covid-19 outbreak (although they can be). Dispatches should be between 200-500 words and can be submitted here.
This is hard to write about because my journey starts remotely. I ended two jobs and started a new job from home. I didn’t have to transition to working from home and I wasn’t furloughed (thankfully). I don’t know what “normal” is because I haven’t experienced it yet.
At the beginning of March, I accepted an offer to be the librarian/archivist at a small academic library. After years of grad school and hundreds of job rejections, I finally got an offer. And it came right as Governor Cuomo put New York on “pause,”which left my transition from two part-time library jobs to one academic library/archives done completely remotely.
I had said goodbye to my old colleagues through emails, and texts, and said hello to new ones through Zoom chats. As awkward and disappointing as it was to do normal life events remotely (including my 30th birthday), I am incredibly fortunate to be able to transition so smoothly. The library director at my new job got me set up with a laptop and a couple of small collections I could work on at home.
This first impression of the library director was encouraging. They gave me the tools and support to feel connected while distant, be productive with limited resources, and be professional while wearing sweatpants. What made these actions impressive was that they were done during a pandemic. It would have been easy for the library to ask me to move my start date or even revoke the offer,but this simple act of doing the right thing gave me the impression that I was important and the archives are important.
The last time I stepped foot into the library was during my interview three months ago. Honestly, I don’t remember much except the overwhelming nerves that come with any interview and the rush of adrenaline afterward. While the library director has discussed the layout of the library a few times, I still don’t know where important places are like the archives, my office, the bathroom, or the library on campus.
Not only am I transitioning remotely from part-time jobs to a full-time position, but I’m also transitioning from graduate student/paraprofessional to professional. That transition is already packed with overwhelming emotions, but compressed with “working from home” it is even more difficult. The imposter syndrome hit me hard last week and along with another unreal emotion of temporariness. It’s difficult to explain and honestly, I’m not sure I can explain it.
Working from home doesn’t make working feel productive at all, and starting a new job from home feels like swimming in open waters where each task pulls you up and down like a wave. While everyone else cannot wait to be back in the office, I cannot wait to be in the office. I cannot wait for this awkward mindset of temporariness to be gone. And I cannot wait to master those waves.