Chapter 2 of Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators by Nakkula and Toshalis discusses identity and context mapping. Context Mapping is the idea that we may have different identities in different contexts. I have experienced this a lot at different times in my life. Right now, I experience some different contexts in my different classes and places of employment. I also notice how much I use different skills and different parts of my brain. I feel like a little bit of a different person as an English major hanging out with other English majors in English classes or at the Writing Center than I do when I work at the Providence Children's Museum or take Education or Social Work classes. I feel like a very different type of employee when I work at the Providence Children's Museum than I do when I am working in my grant-writing internship. I dress differently, act differently, and use a completely different set of skills.
This was also true for Julian. He felt like one person when he was in his Math and Science classes and hanging out with his peers from those classes. He felt like another person when he interacted with his friend, Antwon, or played sports. He found that these two identities were in conflict and it created a crisis for him. The school counselor, Mitch, had also struggled with contrasting identities as a nerd, football player, and a Filipino, but he had learned how to juggle them more effectively. He was able to encourage and support Julian in exploring his own multiple identities. He asked Julian to write down the different contexts in which he found each day including the different people he interacted with, activities he engaged in, and places that he went. Mitch asked Julian to notice how he felt in each of these places. This helped Juilan to better explore his own identity.