As usual I've been thinking about far too many things. This post has already had several iterations in my head. However, one thing remains constant: I went to see Dunkirk on Sunday, which had quite an effect on me. Not simply because it is a very well made film, not simply because my (and many others) grandad was there (the whole Weymouth bit really got to me), but because it reminded me of what I've had to give up to be where I am now.
I'd always wanted to work in a museum. I can't even remember quite why but certainly it seemed like it would be a fun and interesting career. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to start volunteering at my local museum when I was 14, and even more fortunate to get to spend the summer hanging out with the really cute assistant curator.
I volunteered there for several more years, becoming more and more interested in their military collections, and went on to complete an MA in Museum Studies. In contrast to many others I was fortunate to get pretty much the first full-time permanent job I applied for. Was it my volunteering experience, my general subject knowledge or my qualification that helped? I honestly don't know. Over the next 6 or 7 years I went on to two other full-time permanent roles, sort of sneaking up the career path. However, in truth, I was stuck. I had a museum qualification but had only ever worked in museum archives and libraries of military museums. I had a qualification in one area but experience in another and attempts to get a more curatorial role went nowhere, as did attempts to work in museum libraries outside my subject area.
It was around this time that I moved to New Zealand. As with any move I knew there would be things I'd lose and things I'd gain. While I have been able to put my knowledge of military history to good use in NZ - doing stuff for WW100, for Many Answers, and writing conference papers - there are times I miss being closely involved. I miss uncovering people's stories in that way, I miss being specialised. I miss the squadrons, I miss the regiments, I miss knowing. Not that I'm as much of an expert as some people - I don't know enough to spot the flaws in Dunkirk, but I was quite excited when I spotted that Harry Styles had an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders shoulder title.
So this is what I've given up. What have I gained? Nothing ever stays the same, change is a constant, we're all continually learning, if I knew then what I know now... It took me 3 years to get a permanent job in New Zealand, and a further 3 to get a full-time permanent job (some of this may be down to earthquakes). I've flirted with tertiary libraries, decided museum collections management doesn't really do it for me, and developed a massive passion for public libraries. The past few years have not exactly been straightforward for me careerwise, but I've done so many things I wouldn't have done otherwise and have got to know a wide range of people in the wider GLAMR world.
Over the next few months I'm transitioning into a leadership role in Christchurch's new Central Library. This is going to be an amazing opportunity to build a team from scratch and I'm really looking forward to encouraging and developing everyone on the team, who are all going to be at different stages of their careers (I'm really getting into the idea of CPD). This makes me sound like such a sensible grown up, but it many ways I'm just making the most of the opportunities that come my way and the support I get at work. For in the UK I had minimal opportunities and support but in NZ I feel like I have heaps - that's another thing that's changed.
So yes, in life there are things you gain and things you have to put aside, but that's ok.
Image: by me of Roscoe my Royal Flying Corps dog, named after an Air Mechanic Third Class whose collection I catalogued.