I pull up to a stop light, looking to my left, I notice my old middle school. The sight of the building floods me with memories. Most people think fondly of when they were just children with no responsibilities, with no care in the world. I don’t. I wasn’t a particularly happy kid, but it was at its worst in middle school. There aren’t many good memories, but some were livable.
Walking through the hallway was a dangerous game, there was always someone there to make it more difficult than necessary. I don’t remember much of this day, but I was walking back from art class, holding a folder of drawings. A foot stuck out, the folder went flying, and I went down. I couldn’t tell who did it. I was stunned, I couldn’t believe what happened.
I looked up and saw someone looking at me, he wasn’t laughing, just looking. What was his name? It hit me that a popular kid just saw me trip. I shielded my face and looked down, refusing to lift my eyes. I figured if I can’t see him, he can’t see me, right?
A pair of shoes stepped into my view and the person attached to them crouched down to gather my papers. When I finally looked up, he smiled at me and held out a hand to help me up. That had never happened to me before. I was the disposable kid. When someone saw me fall they just kept walking, but not him.
I’m sure he doesn’t remember that day, he probably doesn't remember me at all and that’s okay. That was the happiest I felt that whole year, just the simple fact that someone else noticed. The small moment of kindness defines him in my mind, thinking back about it, I realize that everybody has a different version of you in their mind. Even though I didn’t think anybody cared back then, I know know that at least one person did, even if it was just for a moment.
In my reconstruction of memory I tried to emulate the writing styles and techniques of Margaret Atwood and Ken Kesey. Atwood’s tendency to distance the character from the events and illustrate an apathy in the character, while establishing the character’s emotional attachment is something that I really tried to focus on in this piece. In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey utilizes the narrator’s skewed view of the world to tell the story, I tried to incorporate this by showing the missing details in my character’s memory.
My goal for the paper was to explain my train of thought when it comes to identity and belonging. There were a few sources we went over in class that I knew I wanted to include, so I started to develop a solid thesis based on that. One area that I think I have to improve on is the transitions between topics because it’s a bit choppy at parts. Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve written.
Our sense of belonging shapes who we are and how we view ourselves. As babies, we don’t have our own identity, we just exist in relation to other people. Thandie Newton explains this in her TEDTalk, Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself, she said, “... the self is a projection based on other people's projections.” We are first defined by other people’s ideals and preconceptions about who we are. We can simplify the major influences of belonging to three sections: friends, family, and social media. The way we act within these three groups are usually very different, self is fluid.
Our friends are who we choose to associate with and relate to. This is how other people view you. When you are in a friend group, the way that group is defined is the way you will likely be labeled. Most don’t notice that they do it, but it’s very detrimental. Grouping people and making assumptions about their personality based on it is limiting and can lead to someone being afraid to do something outside of what their friend group typically does.
The next section is family, which, depending on the situation, can be how we view ourselves. It’s the first indication we have of our own identities since the people in your family are the first people you’re close to. This section can be similar to friends in that when a family thinks a certain way, it’s hard for one individual to break that. There are things people keep secret for their entire lives because they’re afraid of the reaction their family will have. Both friends and family have good and bad parts. On one hand, they offer companionship, giving us something to hold onto. On the other hand, there can be an unacceptance to change that puts a limitation on who we can be.
The last piece is social media, which is how we portray ourselves. The growing popularity of social media has sparked a change in the way we think. Due to the huge impact social media has on us, we often think of it first. The first thing we do in the morning is check our phones to go on Instagram or Snapchat. Online, we can post virtually anything we want, so we can be anything we want. According to Psychology Today, “We come to see our identities as those we would like to have or that we want people to see rather than who we really are.” There is a pressure in today’s society to have a perfect, aesthetic life and teenagers fall victim to this, thinking that they aren’t as good because they aren’t popular on social media.
When I was a kid, I didn’t have a ‘group’. I was part of them all, which ended up with me not actually being part of any of them. This left me in identity limbo, I didn’t know who I was. Eventually, I learned to be my own person; I figured out who I was to myself, not to others. Now, I still have more than one group, but I genuinely fit into each of them, they all matter. I’ve thought about this a lot, trying to understand why I didn’t fit in, but I realized that it wasn’t just me, it’s really the way people view friendships. Someone’s friends shouldn’t be what defines them, they are their people with individual thoughts and interests. Although there are a lot of negative effects on our identities because of social media, personally, I was benefited. Social media helped me to discover who I was. It allowed me to post and express myself in whatever way I wanted. Family also played a big part in this, they support me constantly.
Identity and self are fluid, they change. People see us in different ways and we act differently around them, this forms our identities. Erving Goffman, one of the most influential sociologists in history, has a theory about self that essentially states that there is no one true self. He thinks that humans just display a series of masks to control how we appear. This theory has been seen and adapted many times, Newton even mentioned a form of it in her TEDTalk, stating that the self she tried to use in the world was rejected so many times that it began adapting to the rejection.
Overall, how we belong has the biggest impact on our identity. A part of it is how people view us, but we choose how they see us. We can manipulate people’s insight to our lives and only show what we think they should see. This ties together all the pieces of belonging, family to first shape our identity, friends to help us find it, and social media to help us change and show it.
When I started to write this paper, all I knew about it was that I wanted to write about my mom. Basically, I just rambled until I ended up with something I could work with. I'm proud of the quote that I used because it really encompasses the way I feel my mom's way of speaking and just literacy in general. I'm pretty proud of the essay overall, but if I were to edit it more, I would definitely elaborate on some of the ideas brought up and possibly add another scene.
When we were first being taught to read in kindergarten, my whole class was sitting on the carpet in the back of the room, while my teacher wrote simple words on the board for us to sound out. She asked a student to read the word “Dad”.
“Duh-ah-duh” The kid stuttered through the word. I was sitting somewhere in the middle of the group with a weird mix of extreme apathy and anxiety. On one hand, I really didn’t want to be picked to read, but on the other hand, I was bored and just wanted us to be finished so we could move on to the music lesson. I could tell that my classmates felt the same because many of them were either talking to each other or staring into space.
“Katie, how about you read this for us?” My head snapped up and my heart dropped to my toes. I saw a second word on the board, “Cat”. Of course I knew how to read it, easy. I sounded it out in my head, Cuh-ah-tuh.
“Come on,” she encouraged, “you can do it.” But I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud. The only thing I could think of was the worry of sounding stupid and my classmates laughing at me
This moment is the earliest memory I have of being nervous about reading. It was the first real time I had the chance to be criticized by other people. I had no issue with understanding what the word said. There have been multiple instances where people denoted my intelligence to luck, but that is not at all the case. I’m not lucky. I have worked my entire life to be able to function academically, at the level I do. I credit this entirely to my mom. She made sure that I knew how to read long before kindergarten. My mom has a lot of trouble with English, despite it being her first, and only, language. When it comes to literacy, she’s aware of her shortcomings and she never wanted me to struggle, whether in school or in life, as much as she did. This is why she made sure that I had the knowledge and competence to be confident in my intelligence. Even though I knew I could read and write extremely well for my age, my mom’s uncertainties stuck to me, they made me uncomfortable with reading and speaking.
My mom speaks a different version of English, words are swapped for each other, sentences are mixed around and rearranged, and she doesn’t do it on purpose. We have conversations that would be hard to follow for some people and, much like in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan, it would be considered ‘broken’ English. Tan summarizes the conflict with naming it really well, writing, “It has always bothered me that I can think of no other way to describe it than ‘broken’ as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness.” I’ve always seen my mom struggle and she has always taught me that I need to work hard, I have to work harder than hard, to succeed in life. She motivated me to be intense with my education and to reach out for more opportunities to learn and to get ahead.
As a child, I was relatively aware; I knew we had issues with money, for example, and it’s these issues in particular that push me to be successful in school and, furthermore, in life. My goal is to get to a place where I can support my mom. She has succeeded in supporting me by threads for my entire life, I want to be able to support her with steel beams for the rest of hers.
Language has a major influence on a person’s identity. It has the ability to connect people while also being able to eradicate others; it’s the kind of thing that’s bittersweet. Looking at the effect of language on how people are viewed by society reveals just how important it is. People who speak properly are seen as more intelligent when this is not at all true. Often times, people meet students who don’t speak the standard of a language and they write them off as stupid, they expect them to be less able than their peers. Those expectations push them down and don’t give them the chance to show that they are smart. I was fortunate enough to have someone who made sure that I could avoid those low expectations. My mom’s skill and confidence in literacy affected me in the past, and it still does in a lot of ways. One side of it is that seeing her struggle motivated me. It instilled a determination in me that could never die, it’s the type of motivation that starts as a child and becomes a driving force in life. The other side shows how her low confidence stuck to me and, sometimes, hindered me. It made me nervous when it came to public speaking and sharing me language with others. Overall, my mom has taught me more than anybody has and I am forever grateful for the lessons she gave.
Why does Dad always ask me that? Everyday, “When are you gonna get a real job?” Digital media is a real job. It takes a lot of work to write, record, and edit a film. What a surprise, right? Then he has the nerve to tell me to settle down and do something useful with my life. I have settled down and I am doing something, but he doesn’t care because it’s not what he wants.
Dad just wants me to do something that pays well so he can feel validated. He says he’s only looking out for me, but forcing me to do something that I don’t want to do won’t make me happy. I want to spend my time creating. Watching an idea blossom from just a storyboard to a full blown film is the best thing in the world. Then seeing it go on to be successful, it makes me feel like a proud parent. I wish I knew what that felt like, having a parent that supports you no matter what you decide to do.
My entire family has been hounding me about getting a good job for as long as I can remember. They never care about what I want, they just want me to make money. I know that it’s because they want me to be better off than they are, but I don’t know what to do. Maybe they’re right, I mean, it is really hard to find work in this field, but it’s worth it, right? I love photography and cinematography, but maybe it’s not the best choice.
Wait, what am I saying?! Of course it’s the right choice, it makes me happy. Plus I don’t want to be stuck in some office job doing the same things everyday. I want to have adventures, I want to travel and capture all the places I see. I went to college for this for christ sake. It’s been my dream to be a filmmaker since I was a little kid. I’ve been watching and analysing movies and videos since my childhood.
Does that mean I wasted my whole life? Did I spend all those hours, working on a skill that won’t lead me anywhere? Doing the same thing everyday is safer, filing papers, going to meetings all the time. There’s no way I could mess up, get lost, or get hurt. Is it worth it to be safe, but unhappy? I wanna make my family proud. I want to be the kid that grows up and makes tons of money, to be the one that can buy everybody expensive gifts for Christmas, that’s not really easy in a place like this where creativity doesn’t pay off. I guess I should do what my dad wants me to do.
That’s the thing though, it’s what Dad wants me to do, it’s not what I want to do. The only way to live life to the fullest is to actually live. I don’t want to be some robot sitting behind a desk all the time, I’ll go crazy! I don’t want to live in a world of black and white, I need to do something original. Do I want to make myself happy, or my family? Do I want to enjoy working, or do I want a guaranteed salary? I don’t know what to do.
Yo soy humano.
Mi familia es mi mundo, mi inspiración.
Es la herramienta de mi conciencia,
Mi cuchillo de cristal.
Soy nueva. Mi familia me hizo.
Veo las encrucijadas,
Estoy enferma y nerviosa,
Pero nosotros siempre superamos.
El gusto de comida con mi madre baila desde mi lengua.
Huelo la aroma dulce.
Oigo la risa lucha en contra del silencio.
Toco el peso del aire alrededor de mi.
Recuerdos desde mi infancia.
Vuelvo a mi pasado.
Corro por la ciudad.
Canto con mi poesía.
Nado en las estrellas.
Somos productos de trabajo duro.
Pero nos protegemos.
Mi familia es mi alma.
I decided to keep my slide pretty simplistic for multiple reasons. One, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing; and two, because it kind of represents me. I typically don’t like complicated things, so in a slide all about me obviously it wouldn’t be complicated.
There is a lot of empty space in my slide and not much variety in color. The colors I chose seem to go together very well. Normally, I would feel like there isn’t enough content to my slide, but with this one I’m fine with it.In one corner of my slide, it has a treble clef and a bass clef put together to look like a heart. Music is my entire life, I wouldn’t be able to live without it. On the tops, it says “Stay alive”. Simply put, this is advice. There is a band called Twenty One Pilots, they mean so much to me it’s hard to describe. “Stay alive” Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of the band, in both a song and a tweet. One lyric containing it is “Stay alive for me” and when I heard that lyrics it hit me like a truck. The lyric has stuck with me since I first heard it.