A funny thing happened, though, when I started revising my resume. As I erased the mailing address of the university and replaced it with my home address, I felt an acute sense of loss of identity: now that I could no longer claim affiliation with such a prestigious institution, I felt that I was somehow “less”. I was taken aback by this feeling, because a) I’d been ready to move on from my job for at least two years; b) I don’t actually believe that I am a lesser person because I no longer work at TU; and c) I didn’t think I was that status-conscious. So, something else must have been bothering me…
I’ve often thought that being an academic is one of the best jobs in the world, because you get paid to read, write, research, and talk about your interests with people who are equally as passionate about them as you are.* I also think that many academics have spent their entire lives being validated for being smart, conscientious, good workers, etc. It’s almost impossible not to internalize that validation, and have what you do become tied up in who you are. If, like me, your academic interest is in equity and social justice, then I think it’s even more impossible not to have this happen. The downside, of course, is that you can easily reach the point where there’s virtually no separation between you and your work.
sometimes occasionally often almost always brought my work home with me (mentally, if not physically). It didn’t bother me too much, though, since the work was so rewarding and, right until the end, I still experienced moments of “OMG, I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” Still, I think what surprised me is how unaware I was of how deeply I’d come to identify with my place of employment. (I’m usually the Queen of self-awareness, you know.) Upon further reflection, however, I’ve realized that the sense of loss I felt wasn’t only because I had come to identify deeply with the university: it was also because of why I identified so deeply. It’s one thing for me to be an advocate for social justice when I am “just Dominique”; it’s another thing entirely to advocate for social justice when I am “Dr. Dominique” from a prestigious university. I was hugely proud of the fact that I could use the full weight of my institutional privilege to challenge inequity.
I can’t do that anymore.
And, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to again because, in many ways, my job at that university was a once-in-a-lifetime position.