Crafting an Identity

How do you start a post about your identity?

Credit to : Calamity Kim

Do I talk about my racial background? When I did copy-editing for an indie magazine focusing on black women’s narratives, pretty much everyone focused on being black, on being part of the African diaspora. I didn’t relate to that.

Should I talk about my sexuality? How I’ve been rolling it around in my head, trying to figure out where I belong, how I fit in – even though ultimately it doesn’t matter?That it’s more about love, compatibility, connectedness than it is about sex or gender expression?

Do I bemoan my educational background and the amount of loans its burdened me with? How I dread SallieMae and wish they would get swallowed up by the Earth and free me from my debt! That would, however, be really awesome. 

What about my own internal processes? How my faith seems sated only when I get what I want, how I go into a tailspin when things don’t go according to plan, the way I try to motivate myself with little success, the goals I wish I was achieving but am not? How lazy I am! 

Should I mention my external happenings? Living at home in a cramped situation, working a minimum wage job with no real potential for growth, wandering through a city I don’t like. Too bad my world won’t change over night!

Identity is a complex arrangement of all these nuances and more, and is liable to change. I’ve gotten a new job, in a new city that I’ve never been to. I’ve started looking more seriously into what my next steps would be, wanting to continue my education, wanting to be more of service to the world. Attempting to look at my life with more clarity and trying not to be afraid of being more responsible.

I hope that my identity, how I relate to and see myself is ever evolving in a way that makes me happiest. There are many people who fear change, because they’re afraid to leave behind worn labels, worn ways of seeing themselves.

Hopefully, as I move forward, I’ll become more proactive in shaping my identity, and becoming the type of person I want to be.

 

 

 

 

2011: Half and Half – Why It Sucked and Didn’t Simutaneously

Thank the Goddess that 2011 is coming to swift – and much needed – end. In about two days, we’ll be entering 2012 and I couldn’t be happier. You’ve probably seen quite a few posts about blogging this year, ways to make blogging more awesome, goals accomplished and lessons learned.

I’m going to talk about why 2011 sucked.

Backstory: At the brink of the New Year I was living in Seattle with someone I didn’t particularly like. I needed to leave my living situation but wasn’t making enough money to have my own place. At least, a super awesome place with nice amenities. So I sought out a room mate, but then discovered Penelope Trunk’s blog about taking over your career, and decided I needed to move. To Florida. In a brief, gruesome detail free nutshell. 

Hands down, the second worst decision of my life.

Moving two days before my birthday, I found myself in humid Florida, staying with relatives, two puppies and one mean old lady who I grew to despise. After seven months, the highlight had been my overwhelming feeling of joblessness – mining the internet daily for job leads, scrapping by on what little savings I had left, and being told on several occasions that retail positions don’t like college degrees. Meanwhile, I found myself flailing as I tried to make important “life decisions”:

  • Contemplate going to the local community college and majoring in Graphic/Web Design
  • Applied to over 20 positions with Americorps
  • Thought about getting into PR/Advertising but couldn’t even qualify for free internships because of my BA in French
  • Attempted to learn HTML solo (among other programming code) in order to have employable skills
  • Looking into freelance writing gigs, but found myself mostly at content mills

Ultimately, I decided on blogging, which turned out to be really fun, and allowed me to meet some really awesome people in the process. Yet, the joys from blogging seemed to pale in comparison to my day-to-day frustrations of not being able to take care of myself. I slept in most ways, well past noon, as I half-assed my job hunt, hoping that each application sent would be my golden ticket to employment.

Like most people, I wish I had the power to go back and alter time. Where would I be now if I had stayed in Seattle and moved in with that girl? Would I be blogging? Would I had found another job? What if I had moved to NY first instead of going down South?

Thinking back on my 2011, it’s easy to understand why people believe that things happen for a reason. Everything I went through brought me to this point:

  • I’ve had more interviews since leaving FL than ever in my life
  • Met really awesome bloggers, learned how to use Twitter (kinda)
  • Expanding my writing repertoire to include comics and exploring freelancing
  • Learned A LOT (particularly about social justice)
  • Building my network and connecting with like-minded people

Despite my general tone of powerlessness, 2011 gifted me with a better sense of Self. And when I actually stop to think about it – I know ten times more about what I want out of life than when I was in college, living in Seattle, or even the time I spent in Florida.Which definitely makes the transition into 2012 much anticipated; I’m looking forward to the new year despite everything!

What About You? How was your 2011?

Using Personality To Find the Right Career

I didn’t get a job opportunity I interviewed for because I “failed” the personality assessment. I wasn’t within the parameters of what the company wanted, so I couldn’t be hired. In an effort to make myself feel better, I tried to Google angry posts about personality tests to determine job placement, but couldn’t find anything. But it still bothered; what was it about my answers that did me in? Especially when according to Penelope Trunk, retail is the new prestige job for post college graduates, and I wondered how I fit into this equation.

As I brooded for a few hours, I realized that I didn’t like retail. This sort of thing should be really obvious, right? How can you forget what you don’t like? Because I just wanted any BS job I could get. Naturally, I applied to places where the store benefits would rock, or even just to work at a major chain to have on my resume. My friend spent two years working at Starbucks, and he told me how that was a constant topic of interest whenever he interviewed. But I forgot because retail hasn’t traumatized me in the way working at Friendly’s did when I was 18. I felt that I could bear retail life because I needed the cash flow, and I knew I could do the work – but apparently no one else did.

It’s difficult to keep job compatibility in mind when all I want is a paycheck. But a job should be more than that, right? It should give me the lifestyle I want, or the opportunities that I want. If I’m going to spend the rest of my life working, then I should do something I like. That seems reasonable.

And all the Penelope Trunk I’ve been reading, among all the other career/life atfter college blogs I’m stumbled across like Jenny Blake, Rebecca Thorman or Ms. CareerGirl have broadened my perspective. It’s enlightening, enriching, and empowering to find young women bloggers who have achieved so much in their careers by not settling for jobs they didn’t like and by being willing to trust themselves enough to take that career (and personal) plunge.

I want that for myself. And I think that’s a good first step, although I don’t know exactly what I want to do – looking at my personality is a start. I’m an INTJ, my Enneagram is a 5, and according to the PrincetonReview.com color quiz, I’m a blue. And I’m definitely buying What color is your Parachute? to help in my job search.

Even if my next job isn’t THE job, or the most perfect, I don’t want to settle just for retail.

Sense of Life

Earlier today, Rebecca Thorman asked me what my highest value is, and how a blog can help fulfill that. After a conversation with my friend earlier this evening, my mind drifts over to “careers” and how they’re so integral to our identities (or maybe it’s just an American thing).

To me, my career would be the extension of how I see myself. My values, my belief system. It would represent how I wish to be seen by the world.  This is why blogging for your career is so important because you can control how and what people see about you. You shape your own image.

A friend of mine wants to work with a very well-known company. Apparently it’s very well to-do. I am not impressed but my friend’s values don’t reflect my own. From our conversation and from knowing him, I’ve gathered that he wants to live “the high life”. Traveling internationally, staying in nice hotels, working for a company that everyone knows (although I had never heard about them before he told me about it). When I asked him why he wanted to work for them, he didn’t mention the company’s ethics, their statement of purpose; he just talked about all the perks of living in exotic places. Although he didn’t say out right, I got this impression that his underlying purpose was to be envied by others.  

And it makes me think of my own sense of life. Ayn Rand describes it as “The integrated sum of a man’s basic values is his sense of life.” This isn’t to say that wanting to work a glamorous job, or live a glamorous life is inherently vapid, or immoral. It’s an issue of priorities, of what appeals to us and what resonates with how we see ourselves. This is probably why people used to have a mid-life crisis, or why the quarter life crisis exists now – not knowing who you are can really dampen one’s spirits.

I’m writing this post because while I don’t necessarily agree with my friend’s motives for wanting to work with this particular company – because they don’t align with my own sense of life - I need to realize that’s how he sees his life RIGHT NOW. It might change down the line, or it might not. But what it DOES help me do is figure out where I stand, what my own values are because my work will reflect what I believe. And while I don’t know exactly what kind of work will reflect my values (or entirely what my values are), I can learn by looking at the choices my friends make, and looking at the advice (or criticism) I give them in return.

And that’s where this blog comes in.