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Fish out of water

January 25, 2009

fish out of water

From The Phrase Finder:

This metaphor is quite old. Chaucer used a version of it in The Canterbury Tales: Prologue:

…a monk, when he is cloisterless;

Is like to a fish that is waterless

I am no cloisterless monk, but I do feel a little like a fish out of water.

It’s been almost a month since I join the library, but I still feel kind of lost. I guess it is to be expected, in a way. I can’t expect myself to already be in the groove just barely a month into the job. But at the same time, I just feel that being in all these orientation briefings and meetings are just so disorienting. At times, I feel like this headless chicken, running from briefing to meeting, but not knowing exactly what my job scope is really about. I think that is the problem, it’s not been laid out for me. My job scope. Apparently, such a document does not exist. So, I’m just getting bits and pieces from people and the meetings and briefings and what my immediate boss (shall call her IB) tells me piecemeal, and trying very hard to put the pieces together. You know, I like doing jigsaw puzzles, but this is kind of ridiculous.

Surely being a librarian shouldn’t be that difficult, you might say. Well, in theory it shouldn’t. But I guess it’s not just the librarian stuff that I have to deal with, but the people-related stuff as well. You see, I thought that I could just be left alone with the books. You know, librarians, books. I know that modern librarians are not like that anymore but still I, was hoping that there would be none of that office politics stuff. I have worked for a bit and the last few years, I have been working freelance, which means minimal office politics. It’s not like there’s a lot of it here, but I’ve been here for only a month and already, I’m hearing things about this and that. I just listen, since I don’t have anyone to gossip with anyway, but it’s disconcerting. I definitely do not want to be sucked into it.

So, besides running around, trying my best to fit in and avoiding all that politics stuff, what else have I been doing? Well, learning to keep my mouth shut. It’s not like any specific incident or anything, but I just have this feeling that I should not voice out what I think. Just keep my mouth shut and be compliant. Again, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but that is the feeling I’m getting. Like as the rookie, I should not be seen and definitely not heard. Am I making this place out to be like hell? It’s not. I mean the people here say that the people here are nice. And I believe that most of the time, most of them are. But there is still this feeling that there are sides, and I need to know which toes I shouldn’t step on (well, you shouldn’t step on any toes AT ALL, but sometimes, by accident, you might, you know). It stresses me because I feel like I have this target on my back because of the department I am in, and I have to be careful who I choose to go for lunch with, who I associate myself with, what I say to whom, what I say at all. And I really hate that. I didn’t sign on for that. And I’m not used to that. So in the end, I prefer to go to lunch alone. Even if it sounds pathetic.

I really feel a fish out of water, not so much because I’m still new to library work (although I AM new to library work), but because I’m not into this politics stuff. But I guess when you join a large library like that, you’ll just have to deal with it. Hopefully, I will learn to survive.

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