Having gained some work as a library assistant for a university library since last late October I have learned a few things;
1) Having reshelved many academic books by now I have found that some academics truly have no desire to beat around the Bush with their titles (*cough* “intensive pig breeding volumes 1-4” *cough*).
2) I have an immense amount of respect for the students whom can pick up books called things like “the cycles of soil” (5 volumes of them!), “the science of coffee” (12 volumes of them!) And “egg science” and not feel a hint of sadness at the ensuing read ahead of them as well as the inevitable question of “how can a person write about coffee in 12 books!?”
3) As horror inducing as answering the phone is, I can in fact answer phones and compose myself well despite the odd processing blank and my anxiety internally screaming.
Working at the library has of course taught me other skills: managing the library systems and IT process, learning how to handle tills and a card machine (in the event of helping students pay off fines and/or buying printer credit) etc. As daunting as it had been to start, and whilst I’m sometimes left without much to do (after doing everything and then making myself busy), I can honestly say the work has been enjoyable and it’s something I’ve proudly added to my CV.
That being said I admit I’m still cynical. “Its always easier to find a job once you’ve got a job!” Is what everyone keeps telling me and whilst I ache to believe in that and that after my temporary contract ends I’ll quickly fly off into the magical realm of stable employment…I have my doubts. Largely due to the fact that it feels eerily like a few other occasions in my employment life where I thought I was on the start of something amazing only for it to fall. It brings about the thoughts of “It’s progress, but is it enough? And where do I want the progress to go?” It feels a little like being lost somewhere and managing to procure a compass only to realise I still have no map or idea which way I need to head in the first place. Do I try to get more library work? Do I search for something new? If so, what? And if so, how?
These are thoughts many others on the spectrum undoubtedly have to abd as daunting as my next pieces of advice can be I urge everyone to try it:
And try everything
This sounds stupid I know. After all if we’re thinking literally here (which many of us do), how can we keep going if we can’t get anywhere? And how do we try if no one gives us a chance? Well, you keep going by simply not stopping. And we try everything by simply applying. Apply even if you’re not sure you have the exact skills/ experience. Keep going by finding MORE things to apply for find new experiences you may never gave considered existing before you saw the ad for it. My life hasn’t been typical in a lot of aspects so I’ve abandoned the expectation for it to do that and in doing so I keep going by finding more things to apply to and show I’m willing to try by applying for things some people dont expect. After all I’m a graduate of psychology with criminology and I’m working in a library catering to veterinary school, food science, agriculture and all sorts of other topics more people would never associate with my degree!
Be cheeky and apply for everything even if you think its asking for someone else. Worst case scenario is they say no but the best case scenario is that you could make them realise that whilst they may have asked for someone else originally they actually needed you and you could kickstart something amazing. Dont wait to find whatever neat little spot society thinks you need or want. Make your own space with your own voice and tell the world what you can do, because if we only ever applied to things society suggests would suit us, we people on the spectrum would be accountants and IT technicians/ specialists (which for some on the spectrum would suit them nicely but we’d also derive the world of all our other talents and interests).
Finally, here’s Millie the cat who visits the library I work at- she shouts for food and claims space in the library via excessive napping: