A month or so ago I posted something rather personal on LinkedIn, a social media platform that till then I treated as strictly “business,” meaning no personal details, please-and-thank-you.
My post landed on the University of British Columbia (UBC) Alumni page, where UBC Alumnus Harman Bajwa asked fellow alums to join and introduce themselves. And off I went, for half a dozen or so (short) paragraphs. Amidst the success stories posted on the board, as well as war stories generated by the present economy, it seemed ok to write about how lost I’ve been for the past two years:
I graduated from UBC with a BA Hons. (’83) and an MA (’86), both in Art & Architectural History. Subsequently, I went on to earn a PhD (’91) in Art & Architectural History at Harvard.
I have an additional connection to UBC now – more on that in a moment.
After teaching in several New England departments while simultaneously starting a family, I found myself in the peculiar situation of …well, not being able to reconcile myself or my kids to the traditional school system. We started homeschooling, actually, and radically compounded that lifestyle change in 2002 by leaving the US to move to Victoria.
My additional UBC connection is my 15-year-old daughter …, a National Entrance Scholarship winner who is currently in her first year in UBC’s Arts One program. So, while I was the first person in my family in my generation to go to university (or finish high school), it appears my daughter is the youngest person in Arts One. …
At present, I am out of a job (that is, I’m no longer homeschooling my kids, since they’re now both at university) and am looking to reinvent my life. I’m pretty well informed about distance/ distributed learning and gifted issues at the K-12 level; I’m a blogger (since 2003); I’m a seasoned magazine writer (spent ~3 years writing for FOCUS Magazine, a Victoria monthly) on topics relating to urban development, the built environment, social media, and local politics and governance; I have successfully co-led a grassroots political awareness campaign to oppose Victoria City Hall’s plans to borrow $42million to build a new bridge (see JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG); I co-founded a local Victoria-based news & blog aggregator (which could be franchised across Canada – see MetroCascade.com); and as a volunteer member of the Capital Regional District’s Arts Advisory Council, I help adjudicate Project and Operating Grant applications from arts organizations of regional (Greater Victoria) significance.
… I’m reinventing myself yet again, and am willing to relocate either to Vancouver or even back to the States (I’m a dual US-Canadian citizen). Would love to hear from others who have embarked on similar journeys: how did you do it, what did you do, and where?
Standing in the middle of what feels like a slow-motion molasses maelstrom means being unable to recognize the obvious. Not till I wrote it, did I see it: “At present, I am out of a job (that is, I’m no longer homeschooling my kids, since they’re now both at university) and am looking to reinvent my life.”
Subsequently, I connected with a couple of other alums who are also in transition, although none seem to have been as foolishly reckless as I (or else they’re not saying). It perhaps takes a special kind of craziness to “fail” with a Harvard PhD.
While I don’t plan to make a habit of using (misusing?) LinkedIn for my own true confessions, it made sense, however, to articulate just this once my current sense of creative frustration, even on a site geared to professional interests. Yes, I do need to reinvent myself, and yes, I would leave Victoria willingly to do so. If I can’t tell that to my professional contacts, whom would I tell?
Meanwhile, almost two weeks ago Raul Pacheco wrote a blog post where he questioned the value of LinkedIn for himself, and …well, I wrote this long comment about how useful LinkedIn is for professional purposes. And that’s all true, it is very useful. But I guess I wasn’t entirely accurate if I suggested that the personal never intrudes.
PS: I’m still working on that reinvention thing. It’s a tough nut to crack.