By Meredith Farkas | May 6, 2007
I’m coming to the point in my year when things really start to get crazy. I’ve got in the neighborhood of six or seven talks coming up in the next seven weeks. I have a book chapter on librarians and library services being embedded into online courseware due at the end of this month for an ACRL book on the future of the reference desk. I am also developing a four-week-long online course on social software for InfoPeople. The exact title of the course is Web 2.0: Connecting with the Community Using Social Software and it’s designed primarily for those who do (or are interested in) outreach, marketing and PR work. The course is totally free for librarians in California, which is something I’m really excited about. It’ll be fun to teach another class on social software and to get some experience on the instructor side of using online courseware (in this case, ANGEL).
So with all this stuff going on, I’m actually taking a vacation, which is probably the only thing keeping me sane at this point. On Wednesday, I’m leaving for a wonderful week in New Mexico, one day of which will be spent at the AISTI Conference in Santa Fe, which I’m speaking at. It seems like most of the folks speaking at this conference have PhD’s so it ought to be a bit different from most of the conferences I speak at. I plan to really unplug on this trip and will not be checking e-mail or answering my phone throughout. Heavenly!
The morning after we get back from New Mexico, I’m heading off to the Catskills for a few days with my parents and my brother. We’re going to be scattering my grandfather’s ashes. While he died in Florida, the Catskills was his favorite place in the world and the place he felt most at home. It’s where he deserves to have his rest and I’m happy to have the chance to honor someone who has meant so much to me and whom I still think about every day. Adam and I met just before my grandparents moved to Florida, so he never got to visit the Catskills with me. I’m really looking forward to showing him all the places that are special to me; that I’ve known and loved for as long as I can remember. It ought to be quite the trip down memory lane.
I’m finishing my trip up in Utica at the ACRL Eastern NY Conference, for which I’m the keynote speaker. The day after we get home is May 23 and my 30th birthday. I know my two friends who are turning 40 and 50 respectively this year have laughed at me, but I really do see this as a turning point in my life. I’ve always thought of my 20′s as the years that I can avoid being serious, can avoid exercise and can avoid thinking about having a family. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, I’ve always considered 30 to be this cut-off point where I need to get my priorities straight. I’ve started questioning the directions my life has taken and I’m not entirely happy with how unbalanced my life is. I realize that I can’t keep going the way I have been — with the constant projects, writing and speaking — and still be happy and healthy. It’s so hard to say no to amazing experiences and honors, but I’m going to have to learn how in order to have anything that looks remotely like a life. People ask me how I can do all the things I do and the truth is that I’ve almost entirely given up “time outside of work” for my career over the past 18 months. It’s something I wouldn’t recommend for anyone.
I can’t complain about where I am at (almost) thirty. I’ve written a book. I’ve spoken at conferences all over the place. I own a home. I have the best husband in the world. I have amazing friends. I’m part of a profession I love. I’m really an incredibly lucky person. But I think there comes a point in all of our lives where the balance between work and family/friends/health becomes really messed up and we have to make some changes. I was inspired by what Greg Schwartz wrote about finding that balance himself six months ago and realized that I would likely have to do the same soon. It may involve making difficult decisions but, for me, that’s what being 30 is all about.
For my friends… don’t worry about me getting too serious. I promise never to stop putting ponies with monocles in my talks and will wear a Halloween costume at Internet Librarian (which falls on October 31st). While being 30 means a shift in priorities for me, one of the things I want to make an even bigger priority is having fun. Life’s too short to be working all the time.