How Showing Up Became My Super Power

When I was in high school, I only missed one day in four years–my stepmother had just had her third child, my grandmother had a stroke and I had to stay home to babysit a half brother and sister. I already knew that being at school was better than being a stay-at-home babysitter.

At college, I did cut a few classes, but never enough to miss an assignment or a test.

Four years after graduation from college, I did take a break from working full time to attend library school, where I worked part time and attended school full time. Library school was two summers and one year; it was the last year before the University of Washington began its two-year Master of Librarianship program. I was married by this time and my husband supported my desire to become a librarian. Fortunately, his ship was sent to the shipyard in Seattle. We lived in government quarters and got in-state tuition (both helped make graduate school a debt-free experience).

After graduation, I worked a series of part time jobs as a substitute librarian for San Diego Public Library, a substitute library technician for San Diego County Library, and a substitute librarian/teacher for the San Diego Unified School District.

When we moved to Athens, GA, I was a substitute teacher for a teacher who had to unexpectedly take a temporary leave of absence because of a problem pregnancy.

Next, we moved to Norfolk, Virginia where I worked as a librarian for a Defense contractor before getting my first federal librarian job, first as a temporary and then in a permanent position. I got each of these jobs because I showed up every day and found ways to expand what the job could entail.

By developing a strong reputation for reliability, hard work and imagination I was fortunate to never have a break in service or experience a civil service downgrade when moving to a new city when my husband got orders. I was also active in professional library associations (both SLA and ALA).

The downside was that I was frequently tasked with other duties as assigned, which provided me an opportunity to show a willingness to work with others, flexibility when accomplishing tasks outside my area of expertise, and the probability of success when temporary promotion opportunities became available.

My goal was to run a post library, which I accomplished in five years. After that I transferred to the National Defense University which gave me experience in academic libraries. I was able to switch from running one type of library to becoming a systems librarian and eventually leading the section that oversaw both systems and technical services (cataloging, acquisitions, and serials management).

After retirement and relocation from Washington DC to San Diego, I was fortunate enough to become a volunteer for the USS Midway(CV-41) Research Library where I was once again able to create a niche for myself by combining what they needed with some ideas of my own.

Showing up and being flexible in what you are willing and/or able to do can be a winning combination. You never know what job skill or experience that you pick up may be the winning combination for a future opportunity.

40 thoughts on “How Showing Up Became My Super Power”

  1. Congratulations Pat for your professionalism and your responsible attitude. I am quite impressed with your CV and with the words of advisement that you can and have provided to many others. Being reliable is a virtue not too common in many, lamentably, nowadays. Thank you for sharing such an uplifting post. All the best and a happy weekend to you! 🌹😊🍷

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  2. you have had an impressive career. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree that just showing up to life, and work, etc is a superpower! Do you wear a cape? Lots of librarians are superheros.

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  3. I am fascinated by your resume and i think you are right,: being flexible in what you are willing and able to do can be great. It offers you the opportunity to expand your skills and knowledge, but also to be exploited if you meet someone who thinks only of taking advantage of your good will

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  4. Thanks, Luisa. I have sometimes wondered about that, especially when I really didn’t want to do what was asked. It worked out in the end. The first occasion I remember was being asked to prepare the budget for another Branch Chief (Outdoor Recreation in the case). Fortunately, she knew her section, if not exactly how to manage her budget.

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  5. Thanks for commenting, Audrey. My first federal job was as a cataloger and I’ve done it on and off since then. Funny, but it is the skill that has gotten me two of my favorite volunteer opportunities in retirement. Also made some wonderful new friends. Funny how merely showing up regularly puts us ahead of so much of the competition. πŸ˜‰

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  6. The older I get, the more I realize that the most basic secret to success today is simply being here. I think of that as I face myself in the mirror. Whether the day will have you in a workplace, out wandering in public, or doing housework and tending to family, the first requirement is to show up. Sadly, I meet people every day who never learned that lesson as kindergartners. Seize the day.

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  7. Very pleased to learn a bit more about your background. I have never cut a class and I have always shown up as promised. That quality has providing me with much success in business as people know that I will always come through for them. Glad that there at least two of us out there!

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  8. I don’t think I ever cut a class at school, though I may have cut a few at university, which was much less strict! I did a degree in something else, then did a year as a trainee in an academic library – I loved it – it really grew my confidence. After that I could do a post grad in information and library studies. Then I got a job in a public library – just what and where I wanted, and though it was temporary to start with, I worked hard and was ambitious, so it got made permanent. I’ve worked in public libraries every since and am now responsible for a library service. That’s as far as I want to go now.

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  9. Sounds like we have been on parallel paths with similar traits. Thanks for sharing, Andrea. Some people want to be large and in charge, others have no interest in supervision. No wrong answer there.

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