I’m getting to the point where on some of these days, I don’t really know what to do with myself. I find myself falling back on (good!) habits that I picked up in my Undergraduate career…things like writing in a (private) journal, reading widely, finding more things to read. As usual, the vast majority of my reading is nonfiction — though I’ve noticed an interesting theme. Aside from books on writing and editing, I’m looking at what else I might be able to do in the field of Publishing, which would both be fulfilling for me and draw some income, while allowing me to grow and gain experience where it comes to books and the worlds that surround them.

As a secondary focus, I have a lot of Psychology books that I’ve been going through. Majorly, in this instance, I’m doing research as regards what of my disposition I can change, and what I can’t. There is a body of literature which infers that I am not a good match for the position I last held (Library Assistant in Public Services in a Public Library). No matter how much I may view it, or Public Librarianship itself, as venerable.

This assertion on my part combines the main job duties and environment with the fact that I am solidly introverted (I’m sensitive to everything), my emotional stability level is in the range where I’m also neurotic (that is, on top of my baseline sensitivity, I also have a heightened sensitivity to negative social cues), and although I have an average openness to experience and am highly conscientious, I’m also not an “agreeable” person (that is, along with being a “Low-Self-Monitor” [e.g. highly valuing my own integrity], I don’t say things for the sake of pleasing other people, and don’t quite see why I should have to — which obviously conflicts with being sensitive to negative social cues). Brian R. Little states that neuroticism acts as an amplifier for other differences within the Big 5 personality traits (everything above except being a Low-Self-Monitor).

I can act, “out of character,” and pretend not to be this, for limited periods of time; but should not do so indefinitely, or my long-term health will suffer. On top of all that, I shouldn’t expect any of these traits to change, at least not majorly, and not within the short-term.

I also recognize that being able to engage with others through the medium of writing adds an element of distance and safety. This allows me to understand other people and their thoughts without, say, actually having to talk to them. Because I’m nervous around people in the first place (when I was younger, my doctor even had to let my parents know that I was so easily overwhelmed that they needed to speak more quietly: it’s much better, now), I’ve been thinking that perhaps I should not be an Editor — at least, not one of the Editors that has to directly interface with a client. I’ve read that Editing is a person-centric job, which is exactly what I’m trying to get away from where it comes to Public Librarianship being a person-centric job.

The main alternative to this, however, seems to be entering a Technical job…and I have a Humanities background and Humanities interests. I’m not quite a math and science person (though at one time, I was…until I realized that I would never understand people [including myself] unless I actually devoted time and energy to understanding them — and entering the Hard Sciences would take up the time and energy I would need for this [at least for the duration of Undergrad]). This clears me for Cataloging Librarianship, but throws up some warnings where Metadata Librarianship starts migrating into Linked Data and Data Science. Programming is not the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done; I would much rather be reading, or analyzing some book. (Well, there are some books in regard to which, I’d rather program. I probably shouldn’t get into that, though.)

Hmm. Maybe I should get back to my Career Counselor, with this…what can I do that would be book-centric, and still pay enough for me to be OK? Humanities-centric without the public contact? Does that exist, or do people assume that Humanities majors must want to directly engage with humans?

Psychology gets a really bad rap, but books on why and how people think on what they do and in the manner they do, and how people (like myself) differentiate (and still retain their own unique value), are personally relevant. I mentioned earlier on this blog, getting (nearly) to the end of the book, Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, by Brian R. Little (which is where I got the majority of the above information). At this point, I’m looking through the endnotes and bibliography (and index), and have already found another book within that bibliography, that looks really engaging: Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are, by Daniel Nettle. I’ve also been trying to finish Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. The last, I picked up within the last 10 years, and just left off in the middle — but Little references Cain’s book often. In that vein, there is also Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, which Cain references in Quiet.

I found Me, Myself, and Us, in the first place, by looking through the “Resources” sections of Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals, Second Edition. This book was published in 2016, so everything mentioned above, pre-dates it.

I have a feeling that I’m teaching myself now how to be a Humanities researcher and scholar, if for no other reason, than for self-enrichment and self-education. It’s kind of hard to navigate the world when you don’t know who you are, and how you are and are not like other people. Idolizing other people and their niche specializations only gets one so far; at a certain point it becomes obvious that I am not them, and what has worked for them may not work for me. (Not to mention, what works for me, may not be something they can even tolerate: more to the point, what works for them, may not be something I can tolerate.)

The issue I’m confronting is spending so much time reading, that my time (or is that inclination?) for writing lessens. Granted, my writing is more interesting, as it’s now informed…the point still remains that it is easier to read than it is to write. Also, however: good writing often stems from good reading, and not having read widely was my biggest handicap, in Undergrad. Had I been better-read, I may have entered the Publishing field, back then.

Well, there’s that, and the fact that I was in my very-early-20’s. I really don’t know why I expected so much of myself.

Probably because I only had my childhood and teen years, to compare it to. That makes sense.

In any case, I’m here, now…and I can read, now. Not to mention, I have the time to do so, now. Not that this would be all that great as compared to someone who has been an avid reader since they were a child and into and through adulthood (I had a pause that began after Graduation, likely related to having read so few authors I could connect with [my English department was so conservative that I would have changed majors if it weren’t for the Creative Writing and Ethnic Studies departments]); but I also have other strengths. Including, I guess, the time after graduation which I used to learn principles of visual arts and graphic design…which leads me into my next, probably minor, topic.

I’ve been wanting to get back into the Visual Arts. Specifically, painting; and leaning toward acrylics for the possibility of opacity, underdrawing, and overpainting. And…large-format painting. The thing is, I haven’t touched acrylics for even longer than I haven’t touched watercolors. It’s not that I don’t remember the techniques I learned in classes; my particular hesitancy lies around whether I can even remember what each pigment looks like, and how each pigment, behaves. There’s nothing to be done about this except to just use the paints, for example in practice on some of my canvas pads; but it’s still slightly intimidating, even as much as I want to dive in.

I just haven’t done it, for years.

It doesn’t help that a lot of our paints seem to almost have never been touched! I tossed out a lot of the really (decades) old heavy-body acrylics while I was still in a painting mode: I got my AA in Art in 2016 (before I returned to the MLIS program), and had lived through a number of failures of super-old heavy-body paint tubes, by that time. Failures, like the lid peeling the neck off of the tube, or the tube body itself cracking and oozing. Also, sometimes the acrylic binder will start to cure and get gummy inside the tube, and then there’s nothing to do about it but toss it (unless someone’s got a tip involving some acrylic medium I’ve never tried), but I’ve got some really interesting colors in there!

Not that I’ll be able to immediately use them. I was on a “tomatillo” kick a while back, meaning I have some interesting yellow/green/bronze colors…though now that we’re starting to go out again, there isn’t any reason why I can’t do some more tomatillo portraits. 😉 For some reason, it’s really been difficult for me to get a good green by mixing it myself, though I know I have records of experiments.

M wants me to recreate one of our wall-hangings on stretched canvas, as the fabric itself is fading. Knowing what I do about fabric painting, I’m sure I absolutely will not be able to duplicate it exactly (nor am I going to try). It’s fairly obviously a batik piece…and done, like many batiks, with a skillful, flowing hand where the wax resist was laid down after the initial fabric was patterned, and before dyeing. I know that I can achieve something of this if I lay down a tinted gesso ground and then sketch out the figures with pastel or vine charcoal. Once I get the drawing done correctly, I can go over it with acrylic glazing medium, and then start the bulk of the painting — which will be, sadly enough, filling in spaces. It makes sense on fabric, with flowing liquid dye and wax resist: not so much, on gessoed canvas, where I’ll likely have to re-draw in the outlines.

I’m thinking of trying to shift this a bit by doing some Post-Impressionist-style brush marks, instead of using flat color. I don’t know if it will work — or if it will even retain the grace of the original piece — but it’s worth trying. Worse comes to worse, and there’s always the gesso, again.

I’m thinking that getting back into Art will be good for me: with my increased reading, I have been more intellectually stimulated, but I can feel that the emotional stability provided by my Art practice (including my beading practice) has fallen away. Then there is the constant worry about whether I’ll be, “wasting my time,” doing Art, instead of doing something like writing or reading. I don’t see myself becoming a professional artist (as versus a professional writer; or working in Publishing in some capacity), but I’d more likely paint than bead for money, at this point.

Yeah, I guess this demonstrates the whole, “Humanities,” thing that I was talking about, above…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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