Lots of experiences have been eye-opening during my PhD journey so far and I have felt intellectually thrilled,
exhilarated, challenged, and terrified at times. Last week I took a class that I think is going to shake me up at my core identity levels and I'm a bit anxious about it.
In a nutshell, I am a woman. I have many many other identities as well, but that identity is most salient to this post. As a woman, I have struggled with issues surrounding "girlness", competence, strength, femininity, etc. I was raised with three brothers and grew up an athlete. These two factors were very powerful in shaping my conceptions of self. I like my strength, I like my competitiveness, I like my drive, I like being self-assured.
The class that I took is feminist theory applied to research and teaching, with an emphasis on studying feminist theory. I think of myself as a feminist in the "girl power", women can do/be anything they want camp. I value the spectrum of women and women's identities. Perhaps surprisingly to some people, I identify with the "other" a lot because of my beliefs and life choices. I think I'm pretty progressive as things go. But what I am afraid of is that I also carry with me an awful lot of ingrained hegemonic ideas and ideals.
Though this class does feel like a "safe" environment, I felt inside of myself an awareness of how ignorant I am on the feminist spectrum, all things considered. I have never been formally trained in feminist theory, so there is a lack of confidence attached to that. Layered on that is an awareness of how gendered our language and beliefs can be and a hyper-awareness on my part of saying the "wrong" thing. I fully claim these as my own issues, they are not ones being pressed upon me by the professor or the other members of class. However, it makes me realize that this class is probably going to shake my identity and my beliefs to the core as the lightbulbs turn on and I find myself being challenged to see/feel/think different and through others' perspectives.
Don't get me wrong, I *love* these types of experiences because only by going straight into your fear do you experience the most growth. And I gotta admit, this class makes me feel fear. Not external fear, but internal fear, because I am fully aware of the learning opportunity in front of me. I am excited and grateful to be able to take it on. I am hoping I don't stick my foot in my mouth too many times. I am waiting to meet the "me" I will be in mid-December. I am in for a wild ride…