academia, academics, career change, coaching tools, DIY coaching, Ellie's World, Self-reflection

What else can I do? Academics and identity

It seems to me that academics have a particularly strong tendency for “academic” to be a dominant part of their identity. It goes beyond their professional identity and is far deeper. Not a problem, unless you decide that the “what” of doing the identity “academic” is no longer compatible with other things in your lives. I know it was an internal debate for me for a long time. I still introduce myself as a “former academic” even in places where that isn’t relevant in terms of signalling my expertise or credibility.

Something that helped me get unstuck from the “but what else is there” was to split the “academic” identity into other possible identities based on the things that academics do. For example “researcher, teacher, fund-raiser, writer, public-speaker, critic, mentor, line-manager” etc etc. If I think of myself has having lots of different professional identities, then it’s easier for me to decide which bits I want to hang on to. And I can still do, and be, all of those things outside academia.

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