A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A New Label for Self-Identification Purposes

For those of you who didn’t quite understand my last (wordless) posting, the “Eureka!” = I got the job. I didn’t really have anything to say, other than that, and I figured that a post that repeated the word “YAY” a couple of hundred times really wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention. Besides, I don’t think “YAY” even covers it – I am completely thrilled to say that I am now the Director of Communications and a Grant Writer for a social services organization in the greater New York City Metro area.

And there’s that old habit of labeling myself, identifying myself by my (new) career. I am a Director of Communications – so you can tell that I’m smart and articulate. I work for a social services organization – and when I tell you this, you will know that I like to do Good Things for other people.” I am this and I am that.

I have to admit that even though I wrote all about trying to “undefine” myself in my post on January 23, I don’t think that I’m really the type of person who can comfortably go very long without a title or designation of some kind to help me give some kind of form to my identity. I like lists and labels, descriptions and those surveys that get passed around on the internet. You know what I’m talking about – “List five places that you’ve been, list your five favorite foods, list your five favorite books…” I have to admit it: I love the idea of recording every little detail about my personality and preferences, as though my love of C.S. Lewis, chocolate covered pretzels and hot glue gun projects is not only incredibly interesting to everyone else, but will help you understand who I really am. Because I’m such an exceptionally special person, you see.

I’m even such a narcissist that I actually bought one of those All About Me books (almost ten years ago now), which is actually just a one hundred page version of those internet surveys. And while we’re on the subject of my narcissism, let’s not forget that I’m a Facebook addict and a blogger… with more than one blog. This means that I believe that what I had for dinner, my insomnia, and my opinion about that latest novel that I read should all be very, very interesting to you, dear reader. I suspect that all my attempts to label myself, list my various preferences, and constantly blog (not just journal privately) about my life might reveal a narcissism rooted in insecurity, since I seem to rely these labels and lists and blog posts and dozens of Facebook status updates to feel like who I am as a person is firmly established.

This all becomes even more obvious, I think, when I consider my reaction to the much-anticipated phone call from my new boss. During the conversation itself, I tried desperately to mask the giddiness in my voice and maintain a professional, grown-up tone. After we had agreed upon start date and salary, we exchanged goodbyes and then I immediately called my husband. He had to be the first one to know, of course. But then, even before I called my mother or my brother, what did I do? What was even more of a priority than telling my family or texting my closest friends (because they were at work, so I couldn’t really call them)?

I had to change my profile information on Facebook, of course.

The great thing is that now, with the new(est) version of Facebook, your job is listed right under your name at the top of your profile page. It’s the first piece of information included on the page, even before your birthday or the fact that your married (both of which last longer than a particular place of employment, at least in theory). So just in case my announcement that I GOT A NEW JOB didn’t pop up in someone’s newsfeed, they’re bound to notice my newly minted career/designation when they pop in to take a peak at my profile: Lauren Schultz is Director of Communications and a Grant Writer at ——.”

Now we can all see just how long I was really able to last without defining myself by my career. I really need to take a cue from my go-to reference gal Buffy: “You can’t define me by my Slayer-ness! That’s… something-ism.” (Who would want to be defined by the fact that she lurks in cemeteries? But how different is that then lurking in a dark little office cubicle? – both can be soul-crushing.)

Although there is another reliable (perhaps one of the most reliable) ways that I can and always have been able to define myself: as the girl who constantly uses TV and movies, especially Joss Whedon’s television shows and always Buffy, to understand her own life.

So perhaps it is inevitable: we have to define ourselves somehow. Maybe there’s something wrong with defining yourself by your career – and I’m sure I’ll continue to obsess over this subject. But maybe it’s better than defining yourself by a television show. Except if that TV show is Buffy, in which case – you’re just as awesome as I am.

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