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Embodiment Work & Embodiment at Work

Pink square and green leaf Texts reads "Pause to see what you feel in your body..."

By Brittani Sterling

Can you remember the little kid who was rewarded for straight As and photographic memory? The one who basked in the praise from traditional recognition, from sweeping entire awards ceremonies to getting all A+s on their report card. Sure, they may have also been naturally intelligent by American P-12 standards or personable and friendly. They learned how the system worked and became a master at burying themselves deeply within its mores, so that no fault could ever be found with them. But did they find happiness in this? Well, that’s where this story gets complicated. What is a child who excels in this system supposed to know when what is translated as the feelings of happiness and pride are really really pomp, circumstance, artifice? When they are pawns in a ranking system, that doesn’t actually mean much outside of its own gates, and at the same time, continues to dictate nearly everything we’re expected to do, to be, and to represent as adults, especially in a field like LIS.

Though I now work in academic libraries, its spaces and halls are not the only ones I have come to inhabit over my time in Librarianship. Though patron needs differ, libraries always hum with a similar combination of kinetic energy, understaffing (just keeping it real, y’all), ever-evolving policy changes, and librarians who still manage to exceed these constant changes with grace and smiles on their faces. Now you may be wondering what is wrong with that? We love what we do and who we serve. Of course, we adapt! We overcame it! We go with the flow. What else would we do?

And that, my friends, is wherein we should pause. Pause to see what you feel in your body, as I hope you re-read that statement in your own voice, from your own perspective. Are you really happy to always be in a state of constant flux? Striving for policies that may change tomorrow? (Usually) with fewer bodies than are really necessary for tasks, and at the same time enjoying your patrons but so used to the upheaval of the environment, that you don’t even notice these things as unusual? 

Sit with those thoughts a moment and reflect:

  • What were you feeling as you ran around trying to check everything off of your to-do list? 
  • Can you recall from that moment? 
  • When was the last time you took a few minutes to just be in your body and feel what is happening in your system?

Likely, much longer ago than you’d like to admit, but this is an ever-important practice for us all. Because as much as we appreciate the recognition, reward, gold stars, and being the go-to person. These things could fade away tomorrow, and what else would we have but ourselves: our bodies? Unfortunately, we don’t often have time to consider that as we fly to and fro between the stacks, running from meeting to meeting, sending the umpteenth email, or unjamming the printer for the 15th time today. 

If pandemic life has taught us nothing else, I hope it has taught us that work and personal life both need a balance in their validity to us. No matter how dedicated we are to our work, we don’t want to be so caught up in the day-to-day that we miss our lives. Build a career that allows you some balance, or you will find yourself distraught when the consequences of your dedication come to roost. 

Join me this evening at 6pm Eastern on the mindfulinlis Instagram page to discuss some somatic strategies to decompress stress from library work

About Brittani

Brittani is the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies Librarian at UNLV. Her research focuses on the Structural Functionalism of Librarianship, Equity in Collection Development, and the intersections of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with the Lived Experiences of Librarians of Color. When she’s not advocating for social justice in libraries and beyond, you can find her cresting a summit with her dog, listening to her intuition’s pull of the day, focusing on holistic self-care, or practicing Yin Yoga.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Published by SerendipitousCreative

I am a creative in search of an outlet.

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