When the year starts, you can’t know where it will take you or how it will shape you. It is often worth it to take a few moments to reflect on how far you’ve come. When I look back on my own year, I could not have imagined where I would be now. I moved across the country after five years in Kingston, and am living in a small town in Nova Scotia while writing my thesis, spending time with my fiancé, and working as a librarian for a vibrant community on a military base. While I feel distant from the grad school life that I’ve known for so long (from SGPS and SGS events to departmental mixers) and though my graduate work has often taken a back seat to figuring my life out, this year has been an enormous learning process as I endeavor to discover what is important to me.
I’ve often considered libraries my academic refuge, places to take out heavy books that I’ll have to spend hours reading carefully and taking notes on, or places where I force myself to eek out another draft of that paper that is imminently due. Here working at a local community library, I’m getting to see a different side. I see people getting books to read for pleasure and then stopping to tell me about their lives. One elderly patron approached me not long after I started working here and said, “I come here a lot you know. I do that because my husband died last year, and it’s what I do, I come here, I take out books and read.” She comes by once a week, and I save the newest books for her to take out first.
Having a central role in community building, and making people feel welcome, while also getting a chance to re-discover my own love for books has been incredibly rewarding. As my research surrounds the idea of home, making home, and the spaces that cross the boundaries between public and private, I can’t help but appreciate the insight that this new home has given me. Whatever direction my career takes me, I aspire for one where I can continue to foster communities, safe spaces, creative conversations, and a thirst for knowledge and great literature. While I continue to figure out my next steps (because in the final throes of your PhD, and just afterwards, things always appear so uncertain), I know that it is worth reminding myself and others that career trajectories are not as linear as we expect them to be, and it can be worth it to take on new experiences when they’re available to you to see where it takes you. It will be interesting to see what 2020 brings.
With that said, I’d like to thank the new Gradifying writers who have joined our team this fall and have been providing excellent posts every single week, giving us insight on graduate student life. Jiahui Shen, Hannah Darvin, Nikita Jariwala and Chloée Godin-Jacques have talked about their struggles, their triumphs, and given great advice over the last couple of months. I’m so excited to see what they have in store for the new year. We’re taking a short break from posting until January, but in the meantime, I encourage you to take some time for yourself to reflect on all that has changed for you over the past year, and also to find a good book to read for fun.
P.S. The first three photos are from Yarmouth, NS and the last is Cape Split, NS.