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June 02, 2008


Oh, man, I know just how you feel; I have a lovely narrative about leaving Former College for my current location in order no longer to live apart from NLLDH. Which is true, as far as it goes. But it leaves out the part where my contract wasn't renewed - which I suppose I could integrate by saying, When my contract wasn't renewed, it provided a moment to reflect on what was REALLY important to me, etc. etc.

And yet, you know, I don't think it's a bad thing to create these narratives - as you say, that's what a job interview is about. I think the problem with Gatsby (which I haven't read since high school, so take this with a grain of salt) is that he can't keep a very good grasp on what parts of the narrative he's created and what parts he hasn't.

As someone who has yet to create a good narrative about why I left College of Plagarism that doesn't sound either flakey or bitter, I think you've done a beautiful job.
Rewrite my story!

Have you ever looked through one of those little prism thingies where you see the image in multiples that shift as you turn the prism ? I think the truth about our lives is sort of like that: it looks different from different perspectives, always sort of shifting around. You're telling the story from one perspective, and that it's a positive perspective can only be a good thing.

I love Rev. Dr. Mom's image. It doesn't just capture the idea of narratives retold from changing perspectives, but it captures the sense of that moment when you suddenly see your situation - or your past - in a whole new light.

If you can tell it, and if it speaks to *a* truth, then I call it true. As many of your other commenters are saying, there are lots of different truths, and "the whole truth" of a given story may not only be too complicated for, say, a job interview--but may also serve to obscure the important aspects of an event for you as well.

I recently had a revelation about my breakup that I articulated in a way that is, strictly speaking, counterfactual--but that I think speaks to a larger truth in a really useful and illuminating way. When I told this new narrative to a friend who's also a colleague, her response was, "that's awesome! and it's totally true, too!" When I told it to a non-academic friend, however, that friend said, "uh. . . but you know that's not how it actually happened, right?"

Such literal-mindedness gets us nowhere!

Well. But the omissions do as much to protect the identity of the guilty (being the discriminatory college) as much as anything. When you say you were miserable, that naturally indicates that it wasn't all just a happy parting. If someone then wants to know why you were miserable, and you choose not to be direct or truthful in that answer (although I think discretion is still allowed), then maybe you can feel guilty. Otherwise, I think you're doing no harm.
And good for you!

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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