How to cope with day job / school stress
May 13, 2009 4:53 PM Subscribe
Help me deal emotionally with a bad case of academic jealousy.
posted by bad grammar to Work & Money (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
As those who've read some of my previous posts, I am working on an MLS. after having received a Ph.D. in classical history (B.A. in classical studies). I failed at the job search for classicist/ancient history positions. I now feel at a disadvantage in my MLS. program because, not having studied library science in college, I am encountering most of these subjects for the first time. I also don't have time to get into subjects in the same depth as students who are not working, or working short hours on the campus. I work 30 hours a week and I commute to campus (about 60 to 90 minutes depending on the time of day).
I realize that the shoe is on the other foot and some students in my ancient history doctoral program probably felt the same way about having to learn ancient Greek, if they hadn't had it in college. In my doctoral program I had a fellowship and did T.A. work-study, but many of my fellow students were also working their way through their program by teaching or unrelated jobs. So I don't expect any particular sympathy.
I do need advice on how to manage my emotions. I have been stuffing them down, telling myself at my day job that it isn't about me, I am a merely ancillary person who can be let go at any time. The school where I am the MLS.-less librarian is a special education school and so the real work with the students has a heavy dose of therapy and social work. There is a high level of background chaos due to the students' problems.
I have no skills or training in therapy/social work/SE teaching and feel basically useless. I have done all kinds of things that were not in the job description per se in order to make myself useful, including applying for and obtaining grants for the library (many students are in a lower-income category), updating the nonfiction collection, and fixing the catalog. I feel both chronically guilty (that I am not a social work-type person) and underappreciated. There isn't any way that I could do my homework at work.
I did fine in my MLS courses last semester and one of them this semester. But a course on information structure (cataloging, but also databases and a heavy dose of information architecture theory) has left me feeling stupid, as if something bad has happened to my brain in the nine years since my Ph.D. I am good at reading, synthesizing written material, writing, ancient and modern languages, and recall. I do not have a particularly abstract or philosophical turn of mind; when I get abstract, it's political.
In the cataloging class I am feeling jealous (because the final exam and term paper are approaching and I'm stressed out) of those students who are getting the concepts better than I am, because they have been exposed to these concepts longer or have more abstract minds, even though many other students are also having trouble. I am getting worried about my future library job search (it's the end of my first year). I thought I wanted to work in an academic library, but now I am afraid that the competition will be too stiff.
In short, I'm feeling psyched out and burned out. I am afraid to take some time off either from my day job (because I can't count on getting another) or from the MLS. program (past the prerequisites, you basically have to take the courses as they are offered and can't count on them being offered again soon).
I need emotional self-management tips and especially on managing feelings of perfectionism, jealousy, and anger. I apologize for turning AskMe into therapyfilter, but I don't have a personal therapist and I can't vent most of this to my parents or to other students.