Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Most Important Thing

Me teaching people euchre, 2005.
“The Most Important Thing is to: Have Fun.” –my mother, since forever
In the beginning of May I presented at the WisconsinAssociation of Public Libraries (WAPL)’s annual spring conference as part of a panel. Our panel consisted of three separate presentations. I was honored to present alongside Ashley Bieber of Rice Lake, and Shannon Barniskis of Lomira.

People have asked me how it went.
Well, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I wore proper attire to avoid profuse sweating. I guess those are pluses.  But you know what I end up saying the most?
“I had a lot of fun.”
Because I did. I got to tell my story about some cool stuff I did, and I really enjoyed myself. People were laughing and writing things down, each at intended places.
And most people chuckle in reply and say, “Well, I guess that’s all that matters.”

And it was then that I remembered my mother’s adage, which I heard through first days of school (no pictures, please) to cheerleader tryouts (I never made it) to job interviews (though after six months it pretty much had to change to: “The most important thing is to?” “Have fun. And get this job so I can make fucking money like a normal person and not have to drive 20 hours to move back in with my parents.” “That’s exactly right, baby.”)

And I thought to myself, “Yes. That is, actually, all that matters.”

Some people naturally take themselves very seriously. I am not one of them. When I'm too serious, as has been proven as recently as yesterday, I talk like a robot.


"I am a librarian. Here are my credentials. End transmission."
In order to be a productive member of society, and talk like a normal person, I have to have some fun.
It’s been widely documented that stress impedes productivityand creativity. Some people do yoga. I laugh.

I saw a quote the other day that said, “Informal doesn’t mean unprofessional.” Coming from a job blog, I THINK this means, “just because it says ‘informal’ doesn’t give you license to be unprofessional.” But reading it another way, I’d like to make the argument: “Just because I’m being informal doesn’t mean I can’t get things done.”

For instance, sometime around Christmas a coworker and I decided that Thursdays would be Fun Days. We kind of schemed up things that could happen in the library taking it to extremes and laughing about it (“and THEN, because it’s an election year, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES would come!” “That would totally work. Good thing I’ve got him on speed dial.” “Okay, so you get back to me by Monday with what he said.”) Now, we still do this, and we scale it back afterward. But, now that our creative juices are flowing, we can still think outside the box a bit. A whole lot of good programming ideas have come out of these ideological schemes.
Or take a recent incident that required everyone on the YS staff to keep an eye out for an Unidentified Library Misfit. A banal task of watching security footage soon wound up giving staff members code names and re-purposing office supplies as spyware. Though I don’t credit solely this silliness for the Misfit Identification two days later, it certainly did get everyone pumped about the work, and got everyone talking to each other during an otherwise isolated duty.

I wonder how productive we’d all be if we stopped worrying about what librarians “really look like” and instead worked to make ourselves accessible to those who need us most, not those who judge us most.

Though it is cited that “people judge you in the first 12 seconds of meeting you”, this is not so much based directly on looks as it is traits that a person is assumed to possess as well as betrayals of expectations. Think about it:  if we all stopped being so afraid of being unprofessional and were just genuine, even first impressions would end up better.

Recently I was reminded that “All the world’s a stage.”

And I can’t help but think: Wow. How extremely exhausting. It’s no wonder this line is spoken by the only melancholy character in As You Like It.

Though I suppose I can understand his joylessness; since, living in Shakespeare times, he could never really know the elation of eating nachos in his pajamas watching the entirety of Wrestlemania X on YouTube (brought to you by Hair Club for Men).



Given that type of life, I’d probably be a buzzkill too.

1 comment:

Arielle Lee Bair said...

Fun is good! Writing about fun after having fun is even sweeter! :)