Identifying one’s self is a significant part of every individual’s personal and professional life. Professional identity is an important contemporary issue as it is closely connected with the person’s success in the profession and his/her satisfaction with the job. Individuality is based on the features of the particular job and the person’s values and preferences (Tsahuridu para. 1). Every person’s identity is different, but there are some things in common for all individuals: identity is based on what the people think they are and how they percept themselves. Whether it is a creative or a scholarly profession, whether the person deals with machines or communicates with other people, professional identity is vital for reaching the best outcomes from one’s activity and occupying n important place in one’s field.
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Describing Identity in Sandy McIntosh’s Stories
In his book “A Hole in the Ocean,” Sandy McIntosh describes the stories of meeting famous artists, writers, and other people in Hampton, where he was paving his steps as a poet and started building his career. Each of the stories is a representation of a particular person’s world as McIntosh sees it. Each of the people described has a personal identity clearly visible through his or her actions, attitudes, and manner of communication. McIntosh does not agree with all the characters’ decisions, but he expresses understanding and respect towards them.
The Narration about Illya Bolotowsky
In one of his stories, “Illya Bolotowsky: The Bubble Reputation,” McIntosh depicts the artistic nature of his English literature professor. The author describes Bolotowsky’s identity in three dimensions: his appearance, character, and work. Bolotowsky “always emphasized he was more than” just the professor (McIntosh 50). Having painting for his main occupation, he was also engaged in filmmaking, translating, and writing plays. To his surprise, McIntosh finds out that Bolotowsky has become an amateur plane stunt pilot (McIntosh 50). When the author asks his acquaintance about the reason for taking up the last hobby, he receives an answer that the issue of “uncertainty” raises the price of his paintings (McIntosh 50). Thus, we see Bolotowsky as an active person involved in various activities which enrich his character and creative abilities, but who is not avoid of some commercial interest even if it may cause him harm. This person is ready to do anything to pursue a successful career and is not afraid of experiments.
Bolotowsky has a distinguished appearance: McIntosh draws particular attention to his “Cossack-type mustache whose wingspread measured 14,5 inches” (McIntosh 50). The painter’s identity is further revealed through the description of his visit to the author: he begins “his immediate business” (McIntosh 50) and asks McIntosh not to publish his story about their mutual filmmaking. As the story included some unpleasant moment, Bolotowsky worries about his reputation (McIntosh 50-51). Here the selfishness of his identity is disclosed: knowing that McIntosh is a writer, he asks him not to demonstrate his work in order for Bolotowsky to sustain the reputation of his own. Later, McIntosh realizes the reason for such behavior. He concludes that Bolotowsky has been working hard his whole life to “craft” his identity, and he could not allow anyone undermine it (McIntosh 51).
The Story of Peter and Rhea
Another McIntosh’s story portrays the life of a couple – Rhea and Peter. They both used to be artists, but Peter forbids his wife to stay in the profession, declaring that “there is room for only one painter” in the house (McIntosh 38). While Peter’s self-identification with his work is high, there is a problem with the values which does not allow to consider him a positive character. Peter oppresses Rhea’s desires and aspirations. Therefore, his identity can be described as aggressive and selfish. Peter does not want to compromise, and his attitude leads to Rhea’s gradual self-abdication. After her death, Peter calls McIntosh and almost demands from him to come immediately and help with the funeral. The author notices that Rhea’s passing away has not changed Peter’s identity to better. On the contrary, he almost relishes in his grief and makes up stories, each next with “changed staging” (McIntosh 40). In the end, McIntosh is trying to explain Peter’s identity by remembering his opinion on the importance of spiritual richness. The author recollects Peter’s words “you must construct for yourself a mythology” (McIntosh 41). Probably this way Peter is trying to justify his life values and attitudes.
The Significance of Professional Identity in Nursing
There are spheres in which professional identity is of vital importance. One of such fields is nursing. As nurses’ responsibilities involve taking care of patients and maintaining the most comfortable conditions, their professional identity helps shape the environment in which they work (Snelgrove 355). Sharing one’s life experience is considered a very effective method of constructing the professional identity.
Jasna K. Schwind’s Experience
A nurse teacher Jasna K. Schwind remembers her first identity notion in connection with the visual determinants. She recollects how in the very beginning of her nursing program she was given her first uniform: “blue uniform with short, white-cuffed sleeves” (Chan and Schwind 306). Schwind considers it to be her “first visible identity” (Chan and Schwind 306). Apart from this, she notes the excitement of getting engaged into a “new, professional family” as her primary nursing identity (Chan and Schwind 307).
Angela Chan’s Story
Schwind’s colleague Angela Chan connects her identity with social factors. She recollects how at the beginning of her study she was made to get rid of a “jade bangle” given by her mother (Chan and Schwind 307). While in Chinese culture it meant protection from evil, in the nursing school the students were expected not to “be wearing any jewelry” (Chan and Schwind 307). When Chan was made to part with her national identity, she had a hard time thinking about why the professional and personal identities are so diverse (Chan and Schwind 307). However, she eventually conforms to the rules as she wants to become a good professional.
Comparison of the four stories; advantages and disadvantages of the ways of constructing identity
All of the four described situations have something in common: in all of them, people put the professional identity in the first place. However, each case is different. In the stories about the artists, the characters put their professional identity on such a high level that they forget about sustaining a good relationship with people at a personal level. The story of Angela Chan, on the other side, illustrates how she suppresses her personal feelings to keep up with the professional demands. The advantages of developing identity include a better understanding of one’s self and one’s profession. The disadvantages incorporate the necessity of sacrificing some personal issues on the way to becoming an esteemed specialist.
Representing oneself to others requires a thorough contemplating and choosing the most appropriate methods. While keeping in mind the importance of being a good professional, one should not neglect the interpersonal and intrapersonal connections. Taking lessons from the experience of other people and shaping one’s understanding of the profession are essential for anyone who strives to delineate their identity.
Chan, E. Angela, and Jasna K. Schwind. “Two Nurse Teachers Reflect on Acquiring Their Nursing Identity.” Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, vol. 7, no. 3, 2006, pp. 303-314.
McIntosh, Sandy. A Hole in the Ocean: A Hampton’s Apprenticeship. Marsh Hawk Press, 2016.
Snelgrove, Sherrill Ray. “Nursing work in NHS Direct: constructing a nursing identity in the call-centre environment.” Nursing Inquiry, vol. 16, no. 4, 2009; pp. 355-365.
Tsahuridu, Eva. “How Do You Self Identify? Professional Identity and Balancing Competing Interests.” International Federation of Accountants. 2014, Web.