(my fancy new library card, cost me $2 for a replacement!)
So in the bordem of sitting at home all day, I decided to go to the library and check out some books for summer reading. I wasn’t sure if I even had a library card anymore or if I was hundreds of dollars in library debt from overdue books. All that aside, I tried anyway. Up and down the aisles I went searching for those “student affairsy” books all the top dogs read. Well not really, because this is a public library with little interest in student affairs. However, I was looking for some of those rocket ship button pressing books. I found a few, but most of all I found people.
I found the many different people that occupy the Germantown Branch of the Montgomery County Public Library system. I found old men reading casually in soft seats with their balding heads exposed to the flourescant lights. I saw a middle-aged man playing some RPG on the public computer. I saw kids running into each other and their parents over the excitement of checking out a stack of books. I saw an older woman waiting in the lobby for her ride or the local bus. I saw a grandfather with his head tilted back in the chair asleep while his grandson (assumption) read quietly next to him. I saw people.
Being constantly surrounded by “college folk”, I forgot what it is like to see just people. I’m so used to seeing students, colleagues, teachers, and the like that I forgot what it was like to just be a person in a library. Even when I go to Walmart, I see my students and local fans or constituents of Virginia Tech. At school, I’m a student, a hall director, a supervisor, a this and that, but in the regular world I’m just a regular person. Not that these roles are anything significant, but they still hold that awkward green diamond from the Sims over my head. When I walk across campus, I can look at people and box them into a major, academic year, career path, and student organizations. While I’m at the library, I can only look at them as a person.
In academia we play so many roles and wear so many hats and sometimes forget we are still just people. Outside of the comfort of our familiar campus, the world sees us as a person. In the library, our education, position, and different accolodaes all go out the window. At first glance, someone might look at me and think I might not even be able to read. It’s like on the campus we constantly wear our graduation cords, stoles, and hoods without even knowing. The freshman looks a certain way, while the VPSA looks another. Once we walk into the local Kroger, we are just that person looking for the 2% milk while clearly in the 1% section.
So my challenge this summer is just to be a person. I want to be a person on the metro beginning my 9 to 5 day and not Brittany the hall director. I want to engage with people because they’re a person, not a resident of my building. I want to talk to someone who can share the details of their profession because they are actually still passionate about it and not apart of a system of semantics. I want to meet people who don’t understand or even know what I do with my life. I want to be just like that old man with his cap off reading a paper.
If we get back to appreciating just being a person, I think maybe we can work on that person versus the person we feel we have to be because of our roles. I’m not saying most people don’t have this right already, but so often, especially in this field, we become our work. We become the job description and the resume to where we lose the name at the top of the resume. I hope this summer to learn more about Brittany the person, so that when I do go to my next step they are hiring Brittany and not Brittany with x experience. I want people to engage with Brittany and judge me the way I did at the library.
I’m going back tomorrow.