Being an administrator can be deeply alienating. You’re responsible for people, for money, for a community, for services, for the success of all of those… and you’re the only one. You’re still a part of your professional cohort, but you’re not, really. I’m a librarian, but I’m not, really. I’m a part of the team, but I’m not, really. I have a group of colleagues, but I don’t, really.
Part of that originates in the truth that there are so many things I can’t talk about. Even more things that I can’t write about. For example, in the last ten days I’ve been doing the following oblique vague things:
- worked with [redacted] on a letter about [redacted] requesting [redacted], and bit my nails in nervousness over directly contacting someone who is [redacted]
- considered and worked through my emotional reactions to having the [redacted] project reassigned to [redacted] after [redacted], and managed and responded to the reactions of the team over [redacted]
- met with the [redacted] department and was blindsided by the [redacted] discussed in the meeting, then worked with [redacted, redacted, and redacted] to respond to and counter what we learned
- edited a white paper by [redacted] about [redacted] and bit my nails in nervousness over how my radical changes would be received by someone who is [redacted]
- wrote a letter in support of [redacted] for [redacted] and then was inspired to think about succession planning in light of our budget and staffing situation
Those were all time-consuming and important and emotionally laden and real and meaningful. I also can’t tell you any more about any of them. I’d love to. Each has an essay buried in it, about my experiences as a library leader, as an administrator, as a member of a campus community, as someone struggling with harsh fiscal realities that compete with her ideals… but there’s so much I can’t say. So much I can’t discuss in public, outside my office, away from my desk, with anyone who isn’t privy to the original situation. Those communication restrictions aren’t because of anything other than my own sense of confidentiality, professional propriety, and appropriate relationship management. As Cone of Silence is just the right thing to do. And so I can’t talk about them, and I can’t write about them, and how on earth could anyone understand my experience or my mental state or the nuance of my work, when I can’t tell you a damn thing about any of them?
It makes it hard. It makes it lonely.
I’m not sure what my point is, really, or how to close this. I’m not whining. I don’t mind this life, or this job, or these tasks. I chose them, I strive to be good at them, and I am glad of what I do. I value my work and my job and my life. The need for confidentiality and circumspection is just a part of the gig, and I respect and value that. I’m just having a moment in which I have so much to say, and my ability to say it is so muffled I’m not at all sure where to go next.