No Such Trickery

Being in library school has been a whirlwind of so many different learning experiences. Once in a while life in graduate school leads to moments of burnout, as Tessa described in her post. I believe imposter syndrome as a student also relates to this fatigue.

Placing too much pressure on myself, I often feel dissatisfied with my performance in courses and at work. It is exceptionally easy to compare myself to other library science students who seem to have it all together, while I feel incapable with my abilities. One overwhelmingly dismal week this semester, I had a poor experience struggling during my part of co-teaching an instruction session and also becoming totally lost when learning JavaScript in one of my MLS courses. When the student next to me had already finished all five exercises, I still was stumbling through the first one, of course. And to top that off, I went to edit my resume at the end of the week and found myself completely frustrated with my perceived lack of experience. I became discouraged when looking at my resume and seeing that I needed more accomplishments, like another volunteer experience or more technology skills. Last year, I learned Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator through IT Tutorial workshops and Lynda, but I wished I knew more. Although I probably am not the only one who has periods of major self-doubt, that’s how it felt.

This article from Hack Library School first introduced me to the concept of imposter syndrome, a phrase that describes what I was feeling as a student. I wanted to have more skills and experience with all things relating to libraries. I thought maybe I should help with more projects to feel more satisfied. I continually criticized my answers in an online discussion post because there were so many responses that seemed superior to mine. Working with the SLA Student Group was going well, but maybe I needed to be involved with other student groups. I kept seeing what other students were working on at different libraries and their thoughtful answers during class time and wishing I could be as talented as them. Everything I had accomplished seemed like a deception, and I questioned whether or not I deserved the scholarship or travel award that was offered to me.

I’m a sucker for quotes and my dad always enjoys using the phrase, “Everyone has their own map,” which is something I remind myself of recently. Our individual journeys are valuable and growth is a necessary process. I continue to learn that each individual path is important, including my own. Instead of wishing I was as intelligent or successful as my peers, I’m learning to embrace my achievements and focus on my interests. I’ve learned information from different courses about creating surveys, collection development, and information literacy and applied them to work experience. It’s especially exciting to select a new material and see it added to the collection at one of my library jobs. The library science program certainly has provided many educational opportunities for students, and I’m grateful for these courses and work experiences!

While I have had my fair share of what feels like tremendous failure and mistakes these past semesters, I keep reminding myself to take these moments of discomfort and learn from them. Celebrate progress and not perfection. Although I’ll never be an “all-knowing librarian,” I can accept the skills I have to offer and bring my strengths to the library profession.

-April