It has been exactly six months since my dissertation defense. Where has it gone?
The first three months it seemed I had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. My immediate goal was to restore a sense of holistic balance to a life that had been very OUT of balance during the proposal-data-dissertation phase. It was during the second three months that I have been able to find my particular voice and determine what I can offer the world with my research and experience. The question then becomes, “Where does it fit?”
As an educator, I am passionate about learning – not what is learned per se, but the identity and heart of the learner. While I don’t have the research background – at this moment – to offer anything more than an opinion, I believe that we all have innate interests and talents that give a hint to our “calling.” This isn’t a calling in any religious sense, as much as it is a basic genetic wiring for a particular vocation. For example, when I was very young (<10 years old), I would sit at the kitchen table and take apart watches using my mother’s eyebrow tweezers. I was fascinated with how the watch worked (this was back in the days of wind-up watches), and how it could be taken apart and put back together. I was a geek before geeks has a name!
My problem wasn’t a lack of ability or interest – it was cultural. When I was growing up career women became nurses and teachers – not mechanics or geeks. There was an identity conflict between what I showed an innate ability to become, and what accepted cultural norms were in place. When it became time to enter college, I was one of only two women in the architecture program at my university. The gender pressure, plus my own insecurities about my ability to compete, caused me to leave the program – and the university. I was years before I returned to school.
While my identity conflict seemed to be monumental for a teenager growing up when I did, what about the conflict that arises when the individual has a more “noticeable” separation from the cultural norms of the society where they are raised? What happens when our innate wiring goes against sexual preference or other norms?
This discussion will continue in Part Two of this series. I welcome others to join in this conversation – not as comments – but contributors to a collaborative discussion on the subject.