Last week I watched several Disney Channel Movies as a bit of comfort food compared to all the election news. One of the selections was a live-action version of Kim Possible, based on a cartoon I loved when I was younger (and by younger, I mean right now because the cartoon is still great). The main character, Kim, is starting high school alongside her best friend, Ron Stoppable, and struggling to fit in. In addition to being a freshman, Kim is also a hero to travels the world. And no super powers here; just amazingness built on brilliant genes (dad works in robotics, mom is a ninja brain surgeon), talent, and a lot of training.
I won’t spoil the story, but of course there is a crisis because otherwise what would the movie be about. While trying to save the world, Kim is also struggling with her identity. After losing a fight, she questions who she is. Unless she is the very best, then what is left?
When you meet someone new, among the first questions is often “What do you do?” We learn someone’s name and then we learn their job as a way to (in theory) learn their identity. But a job is one dimension of our identity, far from its total.
My job, right now, is part-time academic coach and adjunct professor. I have been searching for a full-time job for since last winter and remain with a part-time job. That does not mean, however, that I have a part-time identity. I am an academic coach and a professor and a writer and a runner and a friend and a girlfriend and a daughter and a granddaughter and a babysitter and a napper and a reader and a nerd and a hundred other things depending on the week.
Having my career be in limbo is a struggle, as I question who I am if I lack a good answer to “What do you do?” It is in those times that I try (emphasis on try) to look at the woman in the mirror and remember all that I am beyond what any business card could say. And if that is not enough, I ask a friend to help remind me.