For the last five years, I’ve been busy working away at building my librarian career. I established my social media presence through this blog and Twitter (@MissLibraryGrrl), I volunteered for library organisations, presented at conferences, wrote articles, read widely, built a supportive network of GLAMR peers, and took lots of professional development opportunities. I had two great (permanent!) jobs that I enjoyed, with challenging work and wonderful colleagues.
Yet this year, I left that all behind. It’s a scary thing to spend all that time and effort on establishing yourself, to then step away from it all. At the end of 2018, I quit my jobs and left on a one way ticket headed to the UK with my partner (with a three month stopover in South East Asia first). I don’t have anything lined up – no place to live, no job, nothing.
It’s a risk I knew I had to take, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it all pans out. This is the last year that I’m young enough to qualify for a working holiday visa – that helped give me the push I needed, though I’ve always been determined to work and travel more before ‘settling down’.
There’s lots of questions I’m yet to answer, and many hopes and anxieties around my choices:
Will I find a good job overseas? Will my skills and experience transfer across cultures?
Will I be able to get another good job if I return home? Or will I have to start from the bottom again?
Will all my hard work from the last few years be wasted?
Will I forget all I’ve learnt? Will the field move ahead and I’ll become ‘out of touch’?
It’s hard to strike a balance between taking a break, stepping back and living my life, while also keeping a toe in the librarian world. I don’t want to temper my travel time with professional duties, but I also fear falling behind in my career.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in a few weeks time, let alone where my career is going to head. It’s a risk and a challenge I’m excited to take on, and I can only hope it leads me to more opportunities to learn and grow.
I hope I will be able to write again in some time, with some answers to my questions. And perhaps it might help to inspire others to take the leap and follow their dreams (or perhaps I will serve as a deterrent if it’s all a disaster!)
Right now, I’m writing this on a five hour bus ride from Mui Ne to Nha Trang in Vietnam. Yesterday, we watched the sunset over red sand dunes, and ate pad thai with two amazing travellers we met. Who knows what we’ll do tomorrow. I might have slacked off from my library related reading, writing and networking – but so far I think it’s all going to work out.
To sign off – here’s a gif I made of me at the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh.