If there is a textbook example of “faking it ’til you make it,” I’m probably it, at least when referring to academics. After all, I passed off as an MBA student for two months, and led quite a few folks to believe that I was a graduate student. And somehow, I ended up presenting on graduate panels and academic conferences.
I jokingly refer to myself as Eddie Dolan to friends – the Dawson’s Creek character who pretended he was a college student, when in fact he was only a well-read bartender – and then spend the subsequent five minutes explaining the early millennium television reference, just as I have done here. And as I explicate, I cannot help but wonder what exactly it is that I’m doing, creating this pseudo-authority of myself in particular fields of study, able to engage with a somewhat equal foothold.
In conversations, I find myself skirting the topic of education status. Where I had avoided divulging the fact that I was still in college but interviewing designers and previewing collections for fear that I would be discrediting myself, I dance around the truth that I am anything but a graduate student. And I so so because the questions that arise are ones that I don’t want to answer – “why are you here,” “what made you want to do this,” and “I don’t understand what you are doing here if you aren’t a pursuing at least a Master’s.” It is this sort of de facto labeling of incompetency by means of a lack of institutional belonging that generates the unease that I feel.
In truth, I’m not sure what it is that I’m looking for, whether I want to be an authority (even a pseudo-authority) on something or if I am looking to the challenge of constructing another facet of my life. I find myself grasping at straws to fulfill these desires of wanting to be knowledgeable and research through the bypassing the wait for the golden ticket from an academic institution. Perhaps I am doing what I have always done – circumvent the structure and go with my own rules.
Image courtesy of Loredana Loy