This column was first published in ANSE Journal December 2, 2022 Column AJ 2 2021 Topic: Diversity and multiple identities
How may the old story of the underwater trip around the world by Captain Nemo, written around 1870 by Jules Verne[i], be inspirational to us in our job?
Nemo was a very mysterious man. He crossed the oceans with a submarine fully equipped with futuristic gadgets. He possessed deep knowledge and understanding of the sea; especially about all that was under the surface. Also, Nemo was highly compassionate with mistreated and abused people. In reviews of his story, Nemo is often characterized as ‘a captain without an identity’. And even today[ii] you can read so much of what he did and said.
In our lives we play out many identities. Part of those belong to our private life (e.g. mother, father, wife, husband) and another part is professional (e.g. supervisor, coach, teacher).
How do we integrate all these identities in everyday life? In which role do we show which behavior? When are we the ‘one and only’ we want to be? Questions that can lead us to deeper reflection……
At the summer University in Rotterdam (2017), I took part in a workshop by a Romanian colleague. He asked us to draw a picture of ourselves as a private person and one as a professional. Two drawings of the same me.
The outcome was surprising: It was really me in both drawings. In my private life there was as much ‘color’ as there appeared in my professional life. I saw signs (colors and symbols) of hope, joy, enthusiasm and also some hesitation, shyness, braveness.
We take all our qualities and characteristics with us. In every situation. It is all about consciously choosing what of these qualities and characteristics we show and when we do so.
My conclusion is that we are the same person: privately and professionally. But the situation differs to the extent to which we behave towards it. The way we act….
I highly recommend this exercise. It is a nice tool to reflect on yourself as a…………..man/woman, wife/husband, mother/father, supervisor, teacher, coach, colleague, and so on and so forth.
To unfold the ‘mysterious’ parts of us we have to, like Nemo, gather knowledge about what is under the surface. Finding Nemo….finding yourself…..
Senior supervisor/teacher of supervisors
[i] See for instance:
- Verne, J. (1869/1871). Vingt mille lieus sous les mers: Tour de monde sous-marin. Paris: J. Hetzel & Cie.
- Verne, J. (2001/2020). 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas: An Underwater Tour of the World. Project Gutenberg Ebook: www.gutenberg.org
- Various hardcover and pocket editions of the book may be found antiquarian. New editions are still published every now and then