Personal Identities and How They Can Conflict in the Learning Center

All of us are comprised of multiple identities, but what happens when some of these identities clash with each other?

Generally speaking, I’m a Ravenclaw, an ISTJ, a Cancer sun and a Capricorn moon. In terms of my family, I’m a daughter, a younger sister, and an aunt. But at school in the learning center, I’m a student and a writing tutor. Those are a ton of identities to keep track of, and that’s not even the lot of them.

Recently, during a tutoring session, my tutee asked me a question that caused my learning center identities to conflict, and I stumbled my way through a response.

What are your socials?”

Up until that moment, I did not realize just how much I embodied my writing tutor identity during a session. I embodied that identity so much that I nearly forgot about my other identity as a student. Upon hearing the tutee’s question, my student identity crept up on me, but my writing tutor identity would not completely relent. One half of me wanted to tell the student where he could keep up with my personal life, but the other half of me wanted to keep my personal life private. I had to decide which of my identities would win this battle.

After a few seconds of mentally debating, I realized I needed to respond to the tutee, so I had to make up my mind: tell him my socials like I would any other peer, or politely defer the question for the sake of professionalism. I ended up choosing the latter option, but in a way that I was satisfied with. I gave the tutee my email and told him if he had any further questions for me, he could reach out. This gives the tutee an open line of communication with a peer, but does not impact the integrity of my status as a writing tutor. It felt like a win-win situation to me.

After the session was over and the tutee had left, all I could think about was that question and the way I responded.

Was that an appropriate response?

Should I have just given him my socials?

I was still slightly conflicted, but ultimately settled on the fact that I made a decision I was comfortable with, and if I were to ever get to know this student more outside of the learning center, then I could think about extending my socials to him. Perhaps someone with a better understanding of their identities and how they interact with each other could have responded differently, but for someone who only just discovered that her identities could conflict with just one question, I think I handled the situation pretty well.

– N.S.

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