lundi 16 août 2010

Split identity

I'm reading a wonderful book for history nerds, called Masculinity and the middle-class Home in Victorian England. Part of why this book is so much fun is that the anxiety linked to the place of man in his family, his role as father and husband and his socio-economic rights is still very much a topic of thought and controversy.

I could quote the entire book, from the description of marital tasks, sexual mores and club culture in 19th century England, but this passage held particular meaning for me.

"The more alienating the employment, the greater the tendency to conduct life in separate compartments. The classic literary expression of this split comes in William Hale White's autobiographical novel, which draws on his own experience as a junior employee at Somerset House in the 1850s.

I cut off my office life from my life at home so completely that I was two selves. I was a great comfort to me to think the moment the clock struck seven that my second self died, and that my first self suffered nothing by having anything to do with it...

Now that I have started working in a office, I understand this so completely. I feel like a split personality. It's the language thing as well. In German, I'm demure. I know no swear words. In French I am...different. Articulate. I love swearing in English. It doesn't feel real. So at the office I'm a slightly stupid, nice girl. At home I become me again.

I miss my family and friends most of all when I transition back to myself.

All in all, I wonder how many of us change drastically in the work place.

2 commentaires:

  1. I definitely do--in the "office" (classroom), I act calmer. I don't swear. I moderate my tone of voice. I give so little of my personal self away to my students. They know my first name (but I ignore them if they try to address me by it), they know I have cats and parents and a brother. They don't know whether or not I am married or in a relationship, and I have actually told them that it shouldn't matter--I am a whole person whether or not I have a boyfriend/husband.

    So yes, there is Teacher Meg and there is Everywhere Else Meg.

  2. I also most definitely am a different "self" at work. At work I have to be friendly and helpful all the time, even if I don't feel like it. By nature I'm more of a hermit and an introvert, so working with people and answering the phones really drains me. I also have to fight the tendency to bring work home with me; I have to make a conscious effort not to think about work stuff after hours so I don't go crazy (get angry/irritated/stressed). Fortunately, going to college full time keeps me too busy now, most days anyway!