Personal vs. Professional

I’m dating someone again, and I’m excited about it but reluctant to blog about it too much, especially early on.

There are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that this person knows about/reads my blog, as do several people I’ve dated over the past few years, but my worry is less about that (since, mostly, my posts are about anecdotes and my personal reflections on my experience rather than detailing the people I’m dating/fancy/whatever).

Instead, my anxiety is more and more about the blurred line between the professional and the personal, and that while my blog is not exactly read by thousands, it’s still public, and my identity is not entirely anonymous. Many of those who read this blog know who I am, and while most of those people are my friends, some of them aren’t. Also, while my twitter identity is largely anonymous, it’s not airtight, and so it’s certainly not that difficult for someone to figure out who I am and what I do. Last year around this time my twitter feed was read by a few people I was working with professionally, which I didn’t know about until later, and maybe I should have been less naive, I should have anticipated that, whatever, but looking back I still feel *incredibly* creeped out by that fact.

But I also don’t want to stop writing this blog. I really love having a public (ish) forum in which to process my dating experiences – fun ones, weird ones, frustrating ones, delightful ones, painful ones. People don’t speak enough about sex and relationships, in my view, and I think it’s a big problem not least because it means a lot of us are dealing with these experiences/feelings/decisions/judgements in what can feel like a vacuum. Talking about this stuff is important socially, so that we can offer up the kinds of discourse and language we desperately need to process our experiences. I’m certainly only one voice, but we need to encourage people to do more of this rather than shaming them out of it. And the feedback I get from people I know about almost every post is so effusive and authentic that it feels like my reflections are really helpful and validating for other people, especially (though not limited to) women. But most importantly – a lot of what I’m reflecting on here ends up in one way or another relating to my academic work. Some in minimal ways, but others in huge ways, and so this blog is incredibly valuable for ME on a professional rather than just personal level. And so here I am.

I saw a meme going around the other day, which I was hoping to grab a pic of (if someone knows what I’m talking about and can find it, please do send) but the gist was this: that it’s all well and good to mix your personal passion with what you do professionally, since the idea is ‘you’ll never feel like you’re working’ – the twist is that you’ll also never feel emotionally safe again, in either environment, because the line between the two things becomes incredibly fuzzy and impossible to navigate.

UPDATE: More than one lovely person has sent me the tweet. I love you all. Here it is:

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My personal life at times becomes the fodder for my intellectual thought, instances of feeling silenced become examples that end up in my thoughts if not on the actual pages of my professional writing. And I’m always worried about how I would be perceived by potential employers if they discovered this blog, and read it. My own department is extremely politically radical and feminist and often open to people writing and doing things that might not always seem strictly ‘appropriate’, but most departments in my field are strikingly conservative, romantically and sexually (at least in terms of what people speak about openly with each other). I also see a lot of my colleagues locking down their twitter accounts for exactly this reason. But I can’t lock this blog down. And I don’t want to stop,  I don’t want to censor myself, and the very idea of having to do that makes me feel like I want to NOPE out of my current profession pretty hard, but I also worry that I’m being idealistic and naive and so ugh.

Anyway there’s no real answer here, no solution I could come up with that doesn’t involve some anxiety or compromise one way or another. So I guess I’ll just keep writing.

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