what if I’m (part of) the problem?

In which I ramble a bit about trying not to add to the toxicity of a toxic workplace.

navigational sign on a barrier reads END, and a person is next to it attempting to climb over the barrier
photo by Nicholas Canup (CC BY 2.0)

The past six or seven years of my job have been challenging in ways my younger self could not have anticipated. During that time, I was in roles with personnel management that involved personnel that didn’t fit the textbook cases, and responsibilities that didn’t come with enough resources to effectively fulfill them. I often found myself in untenable situations with little more support than to “just deal with it.” Deal with it, I did. Sometimes more successfully than others.

A significant organizational reorganization a few years ago came with a change in my responsibilities, and later a significant turnover in staff resulted in a very different combination of personalities and approaches in my division. These days I find myself in a role that I am more than capable of executing, with the resources to do it well. And yet, I realize that I am still processing the trauma from all that occurred before, and that often clouds or colors my perception of current events/situations.

When I first arrived at my current library, the amount of old wounds and grudges held by my colleagues towards each other and university administrators was evident fairly early on. Most of those colleagues have either moved on or retired, and very few from that time remain, but I find I carry some those wounds/grudges now myself. I didn’t want to become a jaded, middle-aged librarian, and yet there are events that have led me down that path.

I don’t have to remain on that path, and I don’t have to take any of my new colleagues there with me. My feelings are not unjustified, but they also aren’t particularly productive at times. Knowing the lay of the land here, I can decide to be bitter and stagnant, or I can figure out how to work around the roadblocks.

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