the long pandemic

More than two years later and I’m still tired. I never seem to quite escape some sense of continuing exhaustion. 2020 was hard, increased workload and no big holiday to break it up. 2021 no big holiday. 2022 no big holiday. I read Con’s blog from yesterday and her comment about “skirting around the edges of burnout” rang a little true.

I was thinking last year, I needed to find a new way of having a mental reset – that used to be big holidays for me, roaming about in other countries. I still haven’t found a new way yet but I do at least have some sort of balance to carry me on. I’m trying to move myself out of a mental limbo. I’m not even sure how well I’d cope with a big trip currently. My first trip out of the state in a couple of years is next week…will see how that goes. Hoping for a few days away in August too…really should make it to Queensland and see my cousin’s kids, don’t think I’ve met the second child.

I recall that some of my more intense changes have been associated with traumatic times. The year that dad died, I threw myself outward, wrote a conference paper, joined a conference committee, found new directions. Looking back at the last couple of years I have actually been moderately successful at pushing out. In 2020, mid lockdown, I went for a job at the NLA. Missed out, I suspect my lack of people management experience coming to the fore. It felt good however to sell myself in a new context, revisit why I do what I do.

Weirdly, I’ve been at the State Library around 11 years now, 10 in my current job. I’ve had 3 job title changes in those 10 years :-) Oddly I am still happy and there continue to be new challenges. We sold property and bought property, moved house…I seem to be working through some sort of checklist of things not to do during lockdowns and pandemics.

Online meetings have been fine, and hybrid meetings have improved greatly. Kudos to our tech folk for the leaps forward. In the first year, that mix of physical and digital was ok but folk onsite would chitchat while folk online watched, not hearing stuff well, feeling remote in multiple ways. These days, there are better screens in the meeting rooms, there are multiple microphones on the desk, better tech and software integration, better audio, better sound. I don’t feel remote anymore, I feel part of the flow of the meeting and can chip in with related or unrelated comments in a way that feels natural.

I go into the office 1-2 days a week and I am finding I am being proactive in ensuring I talk with people physically, I make sure I visit branches and other parts of the library, being more welcoming and open to impromptu conversations. Finding my own sort of balance across multiple spaces and making sure I feel engaged. Pre pandemic, I wasn’t as fussed and could sit at my desk for days without any sort of physical communication. I think that may be an interesting outcome of pandemic times, pushing to ensure time together is not wasted.