Where does the professional end and the personal begin?

I received an email from a close friend of mine last night. She had seen the link to my first #blogjune post via Facebook or Twitter and rather than commenting publicly she wrote me an email. She notes

your personal interests are are fairly much the same as your professional ones.”

Now this is true, and in fact when I set up this blog it was deliberate that my professional and personal interests are pretty much identical. It is a comment on where I have found myself for the last 18 months or so – in a space where I seem to live, eat, and breathe librarianship and related issues. Part of the whole tongue-in-cheek name of this blog – Über – implies the obsession with which I engage in my profession.

But is my obsession more than that of a borderline workaholic? I believe my engagement with the profession that often gushes into my personal life is in direct correlation to how much I enjoy my job. Without that passionate interest in social media, professional development (mine and others), and engaging in lifelong learning, would I be as good a librarian? Would I have the same commitment to discovering and investigating areas that may be of future interest or use in my current or future work? I certainly don’t want to become disengaged – I have worked with people who aren’t as passionate as I am, or as work-focussed. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – we’re all different.

Sometimes I wonder if it is just the way I’m wired. I am not the kind of person who can switch off very easily. I do struggle to make time in my life for that three letter word – “fun” – of which I have heard so much. The problem is for me, that I consider engaging in professional activities to be “fun”. However as my good friend pointed out, all work and no play could make Naomi a very boring girl:

“Just like to offer a random and radical suggestion that maybe, you could broaden your hobbies.” 

Now she’s lying there, it’s not a random suggestion, this particular friend is always telling me I should get interested in something beyond work. Just a couple of weekends ago we had a pedicure date and I was talking about how I was going to do much less work once I had written a couple of papers that were due within the month. I was telling her how I was starting to realise that I needed some more external non-work stuff in my life.

Practically in the same breath however, I was also telling her that I was seriously considering applying for a high level job that is in the direction of where I may want to go into in a few years. I didn’t think I’d get the job, or even get an interview, but I was seriously considering putting in an application as “practice”.

I spent some time explaining how it was very important to keep your selection criteria skills up, and to consistently document your learning and achievements in work, because likely when it came time to writing a job application, you wouldn’t remember a lot of the stuff that you’ve done. Now I do believe this, and it is advice I give new graduates. However it didn’t even occur to me until she pointed it out that perhaps this was one of the things that I could drop if I was serious about not being so work obsessed. I was, after all, planning on spending the better part of my Sunday writing a job application for a job for which I was not adequately experienced, did not expect to even get an interview for, and indeed did not really want, as I am very happy in my current job and have no intention of leaving it any time soon. Although I wouldn’t say no to a 15 grand pay bump 🙂

And now here I am, another month and another load of work-related stuff I’m already filling my time with. Of course there’s Blog Every Day Of June, in which I am participating, and for which I decided to blog here, on my professional blog, rather than like I did last year, on a more personal ramblings blog. Then there’s the conference paper I need to write in the next week or so. The workshop I need to prepare and find another presenter for. And of course my day job, which this month includes supervising a prac student, revising and updating our referencing content, rewriting some class material for semester two, lots of meetings and goodness knows what else that will come up over the next 28 days.

So I wonder where the personal will get an in. I do have a plan, however. On 30th June I’m celebrating my birthday by flying down to Melbourne for a few days to catch up with friends down there, and then a few days with my brother travelling the Great Ocean Road. It will be a work-free trip. So hopefully I can find the personal somewhere in yet another month of the professional.


About Naomi Doessel

I'm a librarian by profession and a reader at heart. I occasionally blog about the profession, my relationship with food, and I annually fundraise for ovarian cancer research and prevention during Frocktober.
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4 Responses to Where does the professional end and the personal begin?

  1. Penny says:

    I think I agree with your friend! 🙂 Finding work/life balance is hard though.

  2. Julia G says:

    Personally I’m looking forward to having more enthusiasm for my professional life 🙂 But I don’t want to be all work and no play either. At the moment I’d say I have more fun than work in my life, but I expect that to change in the next few months as I dig deeper into studies and apply for work. It’s always a balancing act! Hope you have fun on the road with your brother.

  3. bookgrrl says:

    I’m really impressed with your drive and enthusiasm for the library profession! The balance between your professional and personal life can wax and wane over your life, and maybe in time your priorities will shift. Your friend is a keeper- she is honest enough to remind you there is more to your life than your job. I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip down here to Victoria 🙂

  4. snail says:

    I don’t think a work/life balance exists for me 🙂 My work interests and my personal interests are pretty much the same.

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