Who am I if not a student?
I’ve been trying to tackle this question and derivations thereof since my stint in transcript-official scholarship ended. Where I felt energized to engage in content and share my perspective with a varied audience when I first took to blogging as a college student, I found that commentary to feel less credible, if not simply strained once seemingly divorced from academic associations.
The so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011, coupled with my academic interests and eye to the region, threw me into an incredibly active online community where I felt well-placed to engage in content and disseminate it. I could provide color around commentary with relative nuance and had a wealth of peer-reviewed resources at my disposal to provide deeper insight, if not additional information for readers.
Following college, it was much harder for me to gauge where my credibility lied, in that I felt very isolated from those same academic circles in terms of not only me being an active participant, but physically as well. It was suddenly very challenging to provide so much as ‘analysis lite’ (Roxanne terminology exclusive) as I sat crossed-legged on a bed in my childhood bedroom. What teeth did that commentary have? It was as if I lost perspective of the following:
- That virtual, social networks are a thing to be leveraged for these exact purposes.
- An undergraduate degree program is no bellwether for active participation, let alone impact, in seemingly academic pursuits.
- My ability to think about these subjects was not seemingly lost on me; however, my confidence level around it had taken a hit.
It took me awhile to rebuild confidence levels as I was forced to navigate the murkier waters of post-college reality. I was informed that picking up a phone to get an answer is still an incredibly efficient approach to completing projects, I could not crank out work into odd hours for the sake of infusing poetic license and indulging my penchant for florid theoreticals and second guessing, and I had to learn to care about important issues and current events per the free space on my calendar. I’m relatively exhausted of the “Twenty-Sum Things About Your Twenties” approach of designating these formative years (which years aren’t?) as a period of transition and soul-searching. I think if it has been a period of anything, for me at least, it has been an exercise in simple ‘adjustment.’
Recently, I have been able to take stock of advice given to me by a fellow blogger about a year or so back. He made the remark that part of finding what it is that I want to do would require me to flex those skills across a range of work environments and learn to see those skills play out in terms of their application as a opposed to a set job, role or organizational mission. It seems that I loss sight of the fact that skill sets are living, dynamic, implementable things across a range of situations and ‘life phases.’
I am still a student. I have learned an incredible amount in my working years. I require neither pretense nor pretext for commentary and participation. It all lies within the purpose.