On Spreading Identity

My last semester in university was slated to be a cake-walk term punctuated by afternoon coffee with my favourite profs and ample time to explore my last three courses.  Mid-September I had a chat with one of these notable profs who seems to intrinsically understand the art of balance.  We discussed another academic who was returning after a year of sabbatical and the struggle that ensues when you re-enter a community after a period of rest.  The time off had given him a taste of what it means to simplify life, focus on what’s important, and save all creative energy for a small circle of people.  With no students to encroach upon office hours, no one counting attendance at university events, and nothing to distract from a deep contemplative navel gaze, life reverts to a manageable pace of stimulus where one can find a familiar connection with a sense of self that is normally muddled by all the noise of community.  Inevitably this eye of calm passes and and the strain (and excitement) of living with others claims and converts even the most introverted of us all.

It is with this cyclical journey between asceticism and engagement in mind that I reflect upon establishing an e-dentity.  This creation comes at a time when my i-dentity is being deconstructed and packed away in preparation for an extended move to China. As I pack away artifacts (attempting to adhere to leaving only one box at mom’s) and say goodbye (again) to friends old and new, I am required to centre on what elements belong to me and what belongs to others.  If the social-interactionists are right (as I think they are) I have a new self to meet as I engage in a new geographical location and daily human sphere.  In ways I look forward to a world of strangers without expectations, a journey reminiscent of @plind’s summers at camp where new identity was a liberating exercise in self-exploration, but it is always worrisome to think that some of my favourite characteristics are not actually mine but someone else’s.

All this pondering of travel and self makes me wonder what exactly I’m doing in this online world.  To be sure, I am exploring a new identity in a new space, (it is full of strangers with friend potential, cultural norms and faux pas, and its own language to boot), but I am also packing up parts of myself in here, parts that don’t necessarily fit with all the parts I’m taking to China.  I’m packing up influences and friends, experiences in photos, stories, studies, and mentors into crates labeled “Facebook”, “Twitter”, and potentially “Athabasca University”, but I wonder if this is the equivalent of taking sabbatical only to come to the office every day.  I will not be present, so I am creating avenues to continue my involvement, not realizing that this also creates a host of expectations for my e-presence (though I will be saved from these expectations by the Chinese government on occasion).

There are few opportunities in life to refine and refract thought in a quiet space, and I am not known for pacing myself.  I hope to take a lesson from my last semester in school.  I spent the time working 3 jobs, taking 3 classes, and being involved in more activities on campus than I care to remember.  As a reminder to myself, in the words of Edgar the turtle, “you gotta slow down…”.

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3 Responses to “On Spreading Identity”

  1. Welcome to the land of blogs! I am also a new blogger looking to explore the social science/personal experience of blogging. I am an anthropologist writing my masters thesis on identity and agency and your entry came up in my tag surfer. I like your prose and it sounds like we might have some things in common. 🙂 What field are you in?

    • onepercentyellow Says:

      Thanks for the welcome! It’s so neat to be picked out of a crowd at random. What’s your tag surfer? I’m an English graduate hoping to get into a Masters of Integrated Studies through Athabasca University. I’d like to read some of your posts (which I’ll do when I find out what I have to click in order to do so). I’m hoping to establish that the stories we tell create reality and then to ask how we can teach (especially adults whose stories are more firmly entrenched in identity) if this is the case.

      • The tag surfer is a tool in the wordpress.com dashboard. On the left-hand side it is under dashboard then tag surfer. It takes that tags you use in your blog to create a list of other people writing on similar topics. I have found it quite fun and interesting.

        As you commented on my blog, I am guessing that you found it ok 🙂 I will add you to my google reader and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts, particularly on identity.

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