Are we defined by our careers? Our assets? Our income? Wages per hour? Our cultural identity? Our ethnicity? Our majors?
The definitions help people classifying and measuring each other up. I am not all for it, but it is a fact-- people want to know who you are so they can measure you up by what you define yourself-- in other word, what you identify yourself.
I think it depends on which stage of life you are in.
Right now I am in that odd phase-- the transitional phase between the graduate school and the staff position. This phase is also known as "internship", "externship", or "apprenticeship."
In most of my interactions with the general population, I am defined by my cultural identity, my current education background, and of course, my career since I am in that awkward phase.
Now, what happens when the identity confronts with the major?
I personally have seen it happened so many times. And it is a bit disheartening especially after it becomes too often.
An example of a typical conversation in ASL...
Them: "Oh, congratulations on your graduation! What was your major?"
Them: "Oh... do you want me to turn on my voice?"
Me: "Um, I am Deaf?"
Them "Huh? You said you are an interpreter?"
Me: "Yes. I am an interpreter. A Deaf Interpreter."
Them: "Are you bullshittin' me? What, how can you interpret if you can't hear?"
Me: (taking out her soap box, stepping up, and beginning her explanation about Certified Deaf Interpreters) "...and so, that is how Deaf interpreters work."
Them: "huh... so YOU are Deaf? I just wanna double check..."
Them: "Huh... and you just graduated?"
Imagine this conversation a thousand times over. You can see why I am a bit disheartened. I love the profession of Deaf Interpreting, but really as it adds up, I do get a bit deflated when people question my Deafness or my career.
I do try to see it differently-- I am exposing the general population to Deaf interpreting and as always, awareness is important so I am just doing my part being a walking billboard for "Deaf Interpreter"...
You know those "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE" products? We should get a similar slogan for all C/DIs out there-- "THIS IS WHAT A DEAF INTERPRETER LOOKS LIKE".
Next time somebody ask me about my career, my education, my whatever--
I will just say: "I am a story."
And proudly wear my black unisex tee with the new C/DI slogan.