Advanced Essay #2: Masks and Identity


The purpose of my essay is for my audience to learn about identity, what

influences identity and how it can change due to their surrounding. Something I’m proud of in this essay is having the courage to write about a personal experience that was painful but I learned a lot from it. Next time, I will use more quotes and connect them to my thesis. I also plan on writing an outline for my next essay so it would be more organized.

Advanced Essay:

I remember when my parents, my brother and I visited Algeria in 2016 to spend our summer vacation there. I was excited to see my family again because I haven’t seen them for 5 years and I miss them very much. We will have a great time as we did in 2011. My cousin and I planned to do many things once I get there, from bean boozled challenge to playing Uno with the family to filming some movies on my Ipad.

It was still Ramadan when we went on the plane, and we had to stay there for 21 hours. I was so excited I didn’t want to sleep. I watched movies most of the time while my brother sat next to me drawing and coloring. After what felt like forever, we finally made it to Algeria. But I never realized that this time everything was going to be different.

After a long day, my family and I finally arrived at my aunt's new house. It was bigger and better than her old tiny apartment. It was in the middle of nowhere. As we walked down the hill, it took us a while to spot the house, due to the tall grass covering it. After a couple minutes of walking, we entered her new home. First thing I noticed was that the house was huge. The house was still disorganized because it needed a while to put everything in place. We entered the living room and there I saw my favorite cousin sitting on the couch waiting for me. I was so happy and I went to give her a hug.

“Your new house is really nice!” I exclaimed excitedly as I embraced her tightly.

“Yea I know we’ve been building this house for 6 years.” She responded with a hint of pride.

After that moment, we went to have dinner. It was couscous with chicken which is a really popular food in Algeria. Some of us had to sit on the floor due to the lack of chairs. I felt uncomfortable but I had no right to complain.

After dinner, we all prepared the mattresses on the floor so we could go to bed.

“She’s acting different,” I thought to myself.

And I was right. Ever since that day, I noticed that she was wearing a mask. A mask filled with kindness and love, but I noticed it slipping off. I sensed her true feelings. Envy, pride, and greed. I was shocked, to say the least, after 5 years of being in America, I came to be treated like that. I realized her jealous facial expressions when I would talk to my other cousins, and how she would be angry when I gave something to them. I sensed her pride aura while she was walking around her new home, and how she felt like she is better than me. I remember when she told me that I didn’t give her anything while wearing my clothes that I gave her the day we made it to Algeria. She was never like this, she was always very sweet and loving. She would call me every day and sometimes we would talk for hours. We would always talk about the great moments we had together when we were younger. Moments that most likely won’t happen again. After understanding her true intentions, I still stayed positive because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. In other words, I wore a mask as well but behind my mask is pain, sadness, and frustration. I felt like I didn’t belong there, and I wanted to go back to America. I was wondering, what made her change?

People wonder what shapes an individual's identity, and what makes them act the way they are. According to Rorty, “The contrast between the inner and outer person becomes the contrast between the individual and the social mask, between nature and culture.” (Brainpicking). This quote gives us a good explanation of the complexities of one's identity. This quote really helped me understand why a person’s identity will suddenly shift. From his point of view, we see that it’s the environment that shapes a person's actions. This is why we are all different in everything, and sometimes these changes in life will make us change our entire identity to either better or worse. A person has an inner and outer personality, that they show at different times. For example, some people might show more of their inner personality around the people they are close with such as their friends and family members, while their outer personality might be used towards strangers or social media.

Another quote from the same source and author states, “Many identities are relational in the West, such as those of parent, child, group member and so on. What we think of as different notions of self are largely a matter of differences in what aspects of self are expressed where and when.” (Brainpicking). This quote gave me a good understanding of how the people around you can affect your identity. This articles even explained how parents can shape their children’s personalities, as he shows us an article about the differences in children who are raised by Asian and Western parents. It suggests that all children everywhere can benefit from being brought up to think more about effort and their relations to others than their own abilities and personal development. In this case, it’s possible that my cousin’s parents or friends influenced her to act that certain way.

In conclusion, our identity is an important aspect of everybody's life, in other words, it shapes up who we are. Our identities can be influenced by our parents, culture, and people around us. Which makes it possible for our identities to change. Sometimes people’s identities can be interpreted through their actions, even if they don’t say it clearly and decide to wear a mask to cover it.