Who am I? Why am I here? Best phrased by Admiral Stockdale, but certainly not a patented statement.
Or perhaps Sherry Turkle's second self? But she applies the term in relation to how we present ourselves through technology.
Here, I assess who I am in both digital and analog.
I wear many hats, as I assess most of you do, too. Some hats have greater influence by design; others less influence, to my dismay.
Military officer is my primary identity. While I wish I could place husband/father first, military service has an extraordinary hydraulic effect on my time. On the one hand, it's an identity I'm comfortable with. I think I do well at my job and am confident in my day-to-day workflow. After 18+ years of service, the uniform has long been both a literal and figurative identity symbol. On the other hand, I struggle with the extent to which the uniform defines me. Arguably, to be truly successful in the military the uniform must be your primary identity. Read the biographies of the top officers and enlisted members of each service: they're like monks dedicated to a higher calling. Me? I do the best I can on duty, but I otherwise typically remove the identity when I hang up my uniform at the end of the day.
Husband/father is my second identity. Domestication suits me. I love coming home to the family, hanging out, going on adventures, cooking dinner in that cute little maid's outfit the wife bought me... indeed, my wife likes to say, "I love Jimmy! I don't quite get Maj Fielder, though..." When I retire, she doesn't want me to shave for a year. And she's going to replace my entire wardrobe with flannel shirts and utili-kilts. Decisions I make while wearing other identities influence the family, which weighs on my conscience: i.e. do I take that cool assignment, even though my family doesn't want to live there? Do I write a book at expense of family time?
Third? Academic; or aspiring academic, at least. I've done research in some form or another my entire military career, but am only a recently minted PhD. While doctoral-level training certainly improves my military research, the relationship doesn't reverse well. Sure, military-bred discipline helps, but intelligence analysis tools don't overlay well onto social science methodology. If I want to grow as a political scientist, then, I must find time to dedicate to the craft. Needless to say, there's a tug-of-war between work identities here. Thankfully, my military supervisors encourage me to keep up with academia. Nice fellows, they are! Of course, there's the practical side--the military invested much wampum into my graduate training, thus they want return on the investment. :-P
Fourth, creative. In what few hours I have to myself at the end of the day, I paint. I write. I plunk away at a bass guitar. At least, I try to do all three. I sorely wish I had more time in a day to give each outlet the attention it deserves. This is my greatest lamentation--competent and confident in my job, but I don't want my job to fully define me. But there's only so much time, and feeling like the Looney Tunes frog after a long day's work isn't the best foundation for right-brained pursuits. The urge to roost is strong.
Or, as the saying goes, "that moment when you have so much to do that you play video games instead."
Right. So what does this have to do with this website? In short, unifying my identity. Let me tell a little story first...
From 2005 to 2009, I ran a blog called "Diary of the Mad Pigeon." It was the complete antithesis of this site: policy and social commentary, satire, rants, music, culture, art... basically, everything I cared about in one succinct package. Gads, was it fun... I sold the Iranian government on eBay, got into a public row with an anti-military nutcase, publically embarrassed a company for copyright trolling... and so on. I posted at least once a day, and also had a coauthor who weighed on occasion. In social media speak, I had a brand.
I ultimately decided to shutter the blog in early 2009 because it ate an incredible amount of time that I figured I should be using to write "traditional" publishable material. Additionally, I was about to start my doctoral program, and that HAD to take precidence over distractions.
I sometimes regret my decision.
I started this site as a means to hang my CV shingle and curate my research interests: for a research junkie, a well-stocked bibliography is an incredible time saver. But here's the rub: this site only captures one of my identities. By creating a highly-focused site, I constrained the site's utility for other identities. I pigeonholed myself, if you will.
This isn't to say I know what to do at this point. The simplest solution is to change the byline and expand the site's portfolio. What I DON'T want are separate sites--for me, unified is the way to go.
We'll see. Any inputs would be much appreciated!