Dispatches from a Distance: Losses and Gains

This is the first 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.

by Jordan Meyerl

Working from home has its challenges and its benefits, or as I’ve begun thinking of them, its losses and gains. As a graduate student who is graduating in May, the losses I am experiencing feel debilitating. While I have met the minimum requirements for my capstone, I had hoped to process more linear feet of material. While I can still engage in meaningful projects as part of my graduate assistantship with the University of Massachusetts Boston University Archives and Special Collection, the exhibit I so painstakingly helped curate has been delayed until next year. While I am grateful it has not been outright cancelled, the sense of disappointment and loss still hangs over me.

I am working to balance this feeling of loss with the gains I have made. I have gained more time to work on the written portion of my capstone. I have gained the opportunity to be a curator for A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of COVID-19. In the same vein, I have gained the ability to work on more digital projects through my assistantship and foster skills that make me marketable. I have also gained the chance to spend more time with my partner and focus on me, something I haven’t been able to do in a while.

Since I started graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Boston, I have been career driven. I am deeply passionate about being an archivist, and I have worked hard to complete my coursework to the best of my ability while also establishing myself within the professional communities. I have been so focused on these that I have failed to care for myself. And while I am still career driven and am taking advantage of new opportunities that have cropped up as a result of COVID-19, my greatest gain is definitely the chance to focus on me.