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Identity

February 13, 2013

I have been absent in posting the past few days for a myriad of reasons. Most notably my email was hacked, (it’s been resolved now, thankfully.) While this isn’t my first time having my email (not this one in particular) hacked it is still a troubling experience. Luckily it seems the hackers focus was on spamming my contacts with some weird link. (Side note if you were to get an email from someone with just a link in the address do not click it!) While this was a small issue that was resolved fairly quickly it still left me feeling at a loss. My identity, insofar as it is used online is often tied to this account and the breach in security stood as a momentary reminder of what happens when a person loses their identity.

I haven’t spoken of grad school in a few months, but it has been on my mind. I have come to realize that for me at least the biggest hurdle has been trying to discover who I am, now that I am no longer a student. For almost 20 years my identity has been so thoroughly tied to academics that now I am at a loss. From elementary school onward I have placed my lot in academia. I would introduce myself as a student (inserting appropriate grade), further cementing my identity. I left grad school for a few different reasons mainly; location, lack of job potential, and finances. Which I think is part of the reason that it has been so difficult to disengage. If I were to have flunked out, then I believe that would have been a bit easier to understand (if not still sucking) it would have been a sign that the academic life was not for me. Instead it was circumstance which decided my fate and ever since then a small part of me has held on to that identity as a student. A few weeks ago the semester started at the school I attended, the reality is it would have been my final semester, in another time I would have been writing my thesis and preparing to move on in my goal of getting that illusive PhD. Instead I find myself unemployed working on a novel which is probably pretty terrible. (Oh can we add-on a severe lack of self-esteem/ confidence as a result of the loss of identity? Kay thanks.)

Now however that goal has been taken away. There is no long-term plan (and man do I love a plan) there isn’t really anything. I have been floating along the past eight months with little sense of direction. My identity so intrinsically linked to that of the academic is gone and it still hasn’t been replaced. I find myself becoming sad at moments and while it isn’t a complete reign of tears it still stings more than I care to fully admit. In the end I know this process is supposed to take a while, transitioning from one sense of identity to another is never easy. In fact I am sure of that. In the end I just wanted to let others out there, who may be contemplating leaving grad school or their job to know that there will be a sense of loss there will be pain but you are definitely not alone.

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From → Post-Grad School

3 Comments
  1. Q- My email was hacked too! Very frustrating.

  2. Amanda Gerodias permalink

    Yet another great post 🙂 Have you heard of Coursera? It is in its second year I believe, and it is a website where 33 different universities (including Stanford, Duke, Princeton, and Vanderbilt, for example) have collaborated to offer completely free online classes in a wide variety of subjects. I have taken a few classes from the site and I think they do an overall good job. If you do all the assignments and such you can usually get a certificate noting your completion of the class, but I usually just take the class to learn new stuff that interests me and don’t take the time to complete every assignment, so I have not gotten a certificate yet. It won’t get you a degree or anything, but it is a free way, from the comfort of your own home to stay within academia. Also, it is risk free in that you can try to take a class in a subject you have never considered before, and if you totally hate it, you just unsubscribe from the class. Anyway, http://www.coursera.org if you are interested. A number of classes just started within the last few weeks, and you could still join them now and get caught up on the lessons.

    Also, just thought I would share that I am struggling with a potential transition in quitting so I especially appreciated the post. With the baby on the way, we are discussing finances and the option has been put on the table that I may quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom. With the cost of childcare, it may be more cost effective to stay at home and not pay for a daycare, while probably working a part time job (like the one I already have at the church, as long as they want to keep me in that position at the end of the year). I think I would really enjoy that option, but I really have no way of knowing I guess until I try it, and it is a little scary to think of making that jump out of working full time. Anyway, that’s my story for the day.

  3. Hang in there – I find all transitions hard, even good ones. Have you read “Transitions” by William Bridges? A therapist/friend recommended it to me years ago when I was doing a career change – it’s a classic and I found it really helpful. You can probably find it at your local library.

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