When I was a kid I wanted to be a singer, a marine biologist, a counselor, a dog walker, and probably a million other different things. Now, my goal is to be a sociologist. This is what I have spent the last four years of my life focusing on, but now I fear that I won’t know it when I get there I’m sure (and not-so-secretly hope) that I’m not the only person facing this existential crisis right now!
However, last Friday I think I saw a glimmer of hope. On April 28th, a group of sociology students and professors headed to Dubuque Iowa to present research at the Iowa Sociological Association. I was able to spend the day hearing a variety of presentations on an array of topics in the area of sociology: including homosexuality in churches, the glass ceiling for women working in academics, and the effects of labeling theory concerning drugs, sex work, and more. I also was able to present my senior paper through a program evaluation of a midwest prisoner reentry facility. These topics sparked brilliant conversation between all the sociologists (so everyone) in the room.
Here, I really felt like a sociologist. I was surrounded by people who aligned with what I was talking about and shared my same passion and enthusiasm. I could say that I want to work in a halfway house or in prisoner reentry and I didn’t feel the pressure to explain or justify my decision. Being approached by individuals asking questions after my presentation reaffirmed the importance of the research I have spent months working on.
I don’t have a diploma (yet) and I haven’t officially started working in the field but in this moment, I really feel like I’m doing what I’ve been working towards for what has felt like an eternity. Maybe I’ve been a sociologist for longer than I thought. Maybe I’m not quite there yet. Maybe I never will. If someone has the answers I’m all ears! Until then, I’ll just keep surrounding myself with the people and places that challenge me to keep stepping towards whatever a "sociologist" is, in hopes that one day I’ll get there!