We go to college for roughly four years. Some of us go on to another four plus years of school. Some go into the workforce. Some continue their education or work in another country. Some move back to their parent’s house. But when do we really become the person we are working so hard to be? For me that means asking… Am I a sociologist yet?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a singer, a marine biologist, a counselor, a dog walker and probably a million other things. Now, my goal is to be a sociologist. This is what I have spent the last four years of my life focusing on, but now I fear that I won’t know it when I get there I’m sure (and not-so-secretly hope) that I’m not the only person facing this existential crisis right now!
However, last Friday I think I saw a glimmer of hope. On April 28th, a group of sociology students and professors headed to Dubuque Iowa to present research at the Iowa Sociological Association. I was able to spend the day hearing a variety of presentations on an array of topics in the area of sociology; including homosexuality in churches, the glass ceiling for women working in academics, and the effects of labeling theory concerning drugs, sex work, and more. I also was able to present my senior paper through a program evaluation of a midwest prisoner reentry facility. These topics sparked brilliant conversation between all the sociologists (so everyone) in the room.
Here, I really felt like a sociologist. I was surrounded by people who aligned with what I was talking about and shared my same passion and enthusiasm. I could say that I want to work in a halfway house or in prisoner reentry and I didn’t feel the pressure to explain or justify my decision. Being approached by individuals asking questions after my presentation reaffirmed the importance of the research I have spent months working on.
I don’t have a diploma (yet) and I haven’t officially started working in the field but in this moment, I really feel like I’m doing what I’ve been working towards for what feels like eternity. Maybe I’ve been a sociologist for longer than I thought. Maybe I’m not quite there yet. Maybe I never will. If someone has the answers I’m all ears! Until then, I’ll just keep surrounding myself with the people and places that challenge me to keep stepping towards whatever a ‘sociologist’ is, in hopes that one day I’ll get there!