This is a post I couldn’t write last year. Because I was new. I’ve just about spent half of my life being new in a country, city, job, school. A third of my life of newness ago I would have unabashedly blogged about the newness, heck, even 10 years ago I would have. Now its become more difficult. Because new never gets easier no matter how often you’re new. And now watching this year’s intake of “newbies” and witnessing the change of our Wechat group name to “twobies” there is still that pang of identification.
There are two opposing forces. The buddhist “where-ever you go, there you are” (title of a meditation book by Kabat-Zinn, source unknown) and the “immovable object vs. unstoppable force”. And every shade inbetween. I just love that video below especially the line about “passing through each other with no effect on each other at all”
That’s pretty meta. In the past year I’ve been through a range of emotions as I attempt do match my version of reality with the culture and situation of where I am. I still have all sorts of plans and dreams and ideals. And at the end of the first week back I see those reflected in those who are now new, as they grapple with trying to understand 100 moving parts all at once and to excavate what is “mission critical” as it relates to surviving and thriving in a new culture while choosing the right priorities that are going to make the most difference to the young bodies and minds we serve and still remaining emotionally intact.
There is this medical myth that you rejuvenate every cell in your body over the course of seven years. I wonder what the equivalent period is for organisations? I wonder what the optimal changeover period is? And I wonder how much change is like me painting my nails? Truth. Every year I think I’ll try and be more groomed. And go off and have my nails painted. And within hours realise that my life is not compatible with manicured nails, as bits get damaged and other bits flake off. If I’m lucky as least one nail will last more than 3 days. I think people who have been in organisations for a long time watch the painted nails come and go. And I think that truly for the brief time they endure in a dominant culture they make a real beautiful difference for the students that are in their classes. But that immovable object.
How do new people in existing organisations replenish? There’s that edu-celebrity stuff going around on twitter with the posters and wall quotes and door signs saying we need to say to students “You are enough. We’re happy you are here” I think we need to be saying that every day to the new cells in our organisation. To be welcoming and absorbing and helping them to be who they are and bring what they’ve brought. Perhaps something easier to do when you’re recently new than if you’ve been around 5, 10, 20 years when you’re orbiting around different planets.
Have a great year everyone, and when you’re not, most librarians have a box of tissues and a workroom or office where the door can shut while you let those tears of frustration flow. We don’t judge.