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Who Am I?
As young students many of us have not taking the time to truly evaluate who we are or how we think. Let alone to think about how we have been shaped based on our surroundings or the way that we were raised. During the first week of our sociology course one of the main things that we learned was that sociology is the systematic study of human society and social interaction (Kendall, 2009, p. 4). Over time, there are many things that one could have learned about themselves. I learned many things about myself that I had not realized and in doing so I also learned many things about my friends that I did not realize.
When evaluating myself I realize there are many things that affected who I am currently as an adult. One of the largest contributors to what shaped me was growing up as a Haitian-Cuban child. My culture was very important to me. Kendall (2016) defines culture as the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that are passed from person to person and from one generation to the next in a human group or society (p. 39). This was truly important for me because I was able to learn three other languages. Being able to express myself through language helped to shape me as an adult. I was able to become more open with others when I was in elementary school. Speaking four languages helped me to speak with other students which made socializing even easier. I was able to relate with many of my classmates without having a barrier that would make it difficult for others to communicate.
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My culture was also, sadly, my downfall during adolescents. Kendall (2016) defines outgroup as a group to which a person does not belong and toward which the person may feel a sense of competitiveness or hostility (p.130). As a Haitian- Cuban, I suffered a lot with trying to understand who I was. I never felt that I was placed in a proper category or group. I constantly felt ostracized because I didn’t in one group. I was always considered too black to be Latina and not “black enough” to be black. “Groups have a significant amount of influence on our values, attitudes, and behavior. In order to gain and then retain our membership in groups, most of us are willing to exhibit a high level of conformity to the wishes of other group members” (Kendall, 2016, p.134). When I was finally part of a group I felt the need to stay in the group because I didn’t have many friends. This was a tremendous downfall for me because I contributed to a lot of things I was not comfortable with.
After several evaluations of myself, I took the time to speak to one of my closest friends about how she felt her environment shaped her to become who she is. Tarah Gomez is a young women who turned 23 years old in February, joined the air force, and just recently got married on May 31st. Even with those milestones in her life this year so far, she has had many other circumstances that shaped her. When discussing with her any hardships that she may have dealt with, one of the responses that stuck out the most was that she was abused by her father. When she was growing up her would physically and mentally abuse her. She explained how much the affected her social and romantic relationships. Kendall (2016) defines conformity as the process of maintaining or changing behavior to comply with the norms established by a society, subculture, or other group (p. 134). Tarah had to pressure herself to conform to what her father wanted just so she wouldn’t have to withstand his assault. She stated “at first, I would fight him and would get hit or verbally abused even more, but as I got older in my preteens I realized that fighting him only made my life harder. I figured, I might as well just deal with his nonsense than to get hit every day.”
The developing brain may be affected by abnormal stress control reactions to childhood possibly leading to lifelong changes to cognitive and neuro physiological systems which may come increasingly into play as the individual ages (Davies, 2003, p. 83). Due to the fact that she spent ten years of her life trying to handle the situation, it caused a lot of mental as well as physical harm to her. Henry, Fulco, and Merrick (2018) explain how a traumatic event whether it is significant or frequent in nature can trigger stress responses that may or may not develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (p. 45). When discussing her situation Tarah described her life after she left his home. She explained “I spent 4 years going to therapy because of that situation. I also spent years not being able to date because I was afraid of what the person I am with would do to me. I couldn’t trust anyone and was always afraid to speak up. Even to this day, I have a lot of things that I am trying to fix because of what I went through.”
Compare and Contrast
Tarah and I had different, but very similar upbringings that made understanding her situation, but also forming a closer bond easier. Socialization was one of the larger concerns that Tarah and I had because of how our social upbringing was. I faced turmoil’s such as bullying and verbal abuse, but Tarah faced bullying, physical, and verbal abuse. Being that we are both Hispanic and Haitian we were able to relate when it came to understanding how our cultures shape us. We were able to socialize with each other by relating to each other’s situations. Mindfulness merely speaks to an attendance and a focus, a conscientious presence that is important at. Since we were both victims, we had to work on being mindful. We not only had to make an effort to be mindful with others, but more specifically with each other. This allowed for us to be more open and be patient when either one of us was going through something.
Taking the time to reflect on myself and a person that is close to me made me realize how much Sociology is a major part of our daily lives. I was able to examine my culture and language which made me realize how much it shaped my personality. Not only how I interact, but also how others interacted with me. Also taking the time to evaluate my friend Tarah made me realize how someone being forced to conform can legitimately affect the person negatively. Even years after leaving a situation.
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