Who Am I? – Our Search for Identity
Who Am I? – Our Search for Identity
Personal identity is made up of the distinct attributes of an individual. The attributes make that person a persisting entity. The process of identity formation leads to the development of a distinct person with uniqueness of continuity. The development stage entails a person environment, people around and the various things that people use to define that person. Moreover, the development of a person’s identity and a sense of who they are is an evolving core. Experiences, past mistakes, people around, culture, the society, and the person himself determine who he/she is at specific moments of their lives.
Identity formation is explained by many theories and humanitarians. The development stage of a person explains that, in each person’s lifetime, different crises and conflicts are met. Each conflict arises at specific points in life, for example, at the adolescence stage where those in the age bracket try to figure out who they are. The thought built on at this stage determines who that person is for the rest of his/her life. After establishing the basic identity, one goes ahead and bonds with friends to form a shared identity. After establishing the shared identity, one develops identity statuses. At this point, the foundation the personal identity is based on determines who the individual is. Various stages of life affect the development of a person. Whatever goes into the mind of an individual forms their identity. In totality, all this defines who that person is.
There are many aspects of a person’s identity. Self-identity encompasses all aspects of self-construction and beliefs. What a person builds about him/herself becomes the reality and the constructed image defines the person. Cultural identity is the feeling of belonging to an ethnic group. People are identified by their cultures because different ethnicities have diverse styles. Various cultural identifiers are used to classify people, for example, location, mode of dressing, race, sexuality, food, language and history form a basis of identification of people. A place where someone lives influences the culture someone wishes to adopt. In addition, the people in these places play a role in how one feels about themselves. There is always a push to change cultures when a person moves to a new place in order to fit in that particular society. Personal sense of worth is defined by the culture someone has. If a person feels good about his culture, his identity is notable, and the person develops positively.
Gender identity is one of the concepts of personal individuality. The sense of being a man or woman consists of accepting the membership of one person in the male or female category. Gender identity is not fixed at birth because both social and physiologic factors contribute to the early establishment of a core identity as a child matures (Young 65). The concept of ‘I am a boy’ or ‘I am a girl’ establishes a proper identity, and as a child reaches a particular age, he or she is able to understand which pertains to him or herself. Gender or sex roles develop by means of social reinforcement, parents and language (Young 78). When a person is taught sex-appropriate behavior from an early age, the behaviors are reinforced as he/she enters a wide social world.
Killing Rage a novel by Bell Hooks focuses on the issue of racism. Racism affects a person’s identity. She explains in context how black women are discriminated in various situations. In the earlier days of racial integration, white supremacists had their way. White supremacy culture had taught the blacks that they were second-class citizens with no say in the society. The blacks are harassed by the whites due to the racial differences. The whites showed no value of other races. The white rule made blacks lose their sense of worthiness and humanity. All people are equal before the maker and consequently all humans should have equal rights. According to Bell and Williams, the writers of the Death of the Profane, females and poor black people are left with raging spirits as they are treated unfairly. Self-determination and worth are virtues to be achieved by all humans. The ‘Who I am’ question in this context is hard to be achieved by the blacks. Equality should be fought for, and the blacks should know their self worth in order to actualize their dreams (Hooks 20).
The Things They Carried, a short story by Tom O’Brien focuses on the life of the Vietnamese. They were faced with hardships, and they carried things that gave them hope and a sense of determination (O’Brien 15). The simple everyday materials made life more normal and worth enduring. The writer narrates the events of life that follow every human in the struggle for survival. Some are emotional like the death of loved ones, which traumatize people and make life meaningless. However, the contributions of these people in the lives change the view of life. For instance, Cross always returns to the obsession of Martha. Love also makes people reach a stage of knowing who they are. Love creates a sense of importance and reveals the potential of a person. It enables one reach a stage of full formation and identity.
The writer of The Conceptual Self in Context: Culture Experience Self Understanding, Ulric Neisser, explains self-knowledge as based on five basic selves. The ecological self is perceived as the respect for the environment. It explains why a person is in a particular place doing a certain activity (Neisser 45). The second self is the interpersonal self. It explains how people engage in various human interchanges. The third self explains the private self. It explains how people sometimes feel when faced with a particular pain and why all people are unique. The fourth self explains the conceptual self. Self-concept makes one believe in his/her own abilities and understand social roles (Neisser 60). The writer builds on the concept of self-identity and why humans have values and how we came to be.
There are remarkable factors that feed into ourselves who we are and give us a sense of belonging. Great writers who write articles and books of inspiration make someone develop a sense of self-knowledge about a person potential. There are also the great activists who played a role in fighting ideologies that affected humans. Racism, a rule that segregated blacks from enjoying their human rights, was fought against by great activists and they succeeded in abolishing it. There are also platforms in the society that address the issue of self-identity. Places like churches walk with humans in every step of their life and teach on developmental models that help a person grow toward a better self.
The culture we grow in and the surrounding defines who someone is. A community that is supportive and which focuses on a child growth from early stages helps develop individual who know who they are. Parents also contribute in the growth of an individual. Some parents are not supportive and they tend to cause sense of hatred in their children therefore inhibit self-actualization. Supportive parents, on the other hand, raise individuals who are confident, know their societal roles and are able to work on achieving other people’s potentials.
Peer relationships are also factors that affect development of one’s identity. Friends in one’s life helps one establish his identity. Friends can influence someone life positively or negatively, some friends help someone realize their goals by providing support, offering advice and encouragement. On the other hand, some derail one’s life by instilling false sense of unworthiness. Education is another factor that shape ones identity process. A good education system not only equips a person with work skills but it incorporates teachings like self-identity, creative thinking and value of someone.
Hooks, Bell. Killing Rage: Ending Racism. New York: H. Holt and Co, 2006. Print.
Neisser, Ulric. The Conceptual Self in Context: Culture Experience Self Understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. Print.
Young, Iris M. Throwing Like A Girl and Other Essays. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.
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