To get us thinking about the topic of how our selves are integrated into our research writing, we have a wonderful blog below that explores the view when leaving fieldwork behind. This is a powerful example of using writing as a way to work through the idea of ‘getting personal’:
‘On the plane, preparing to fly out, the lady next to me smiles, you must be sad to leave. And suddenly I found myself in tears, because I’m terrified, mainly for my girls – and thinking of the Peace Corps volunteer saying that in secondary school, teachers expect girls to have sex with them, I have no obvious way to follow up, to help my kids. I’m leaving my babies (I know I should stop calling them that); but while they’re are strong and sassy and capable, eventually, the girls owned our vulnerable space. It wasn’t all intentional. I know it’s not appropriate to feel driven to protect these powerful beings from becoming jaded. But who will? Their loving parents face the same barriers in trying to see them along. And I’m no longer comfortable with these definitive spaces that separate us. I offered to listen; gradually, I came in. And now, I care what happens.
It’s the part that scares me most, but maybe it’s that love where my writing begins and ends. I’ve come around to having the esoteric around youth identity and sustainability become personal, and while I wanted to go there, now I’m left to deal with it. And I don’t know who I should be. I was affected. And my history, with the big programs, speculative baggage of having powerful mentors, had to fall away, so I can be here with these young beings. But what now?
My field navigations fell against Instagram poets and youtube academics – a hidden space to connect out, and find emboldening comments to play my thoughts against. While afraid of this thesis becoming about me, maybe in some ways it has to be, to ‘come out of the closet’ into this new space, and authentically make meaning from journeys shared, as finite boundaries fell away, especially by young participants. It’s coming back, that I existed, too, my identity was shifting too. But while I try to resist this being about me, allowing that uncertainty, maybe it’s dealing with my being that will bring back where participants step in / through. Maybe it matters – I mean, isn’t it always relational..?’