It has been said by many people that a person does not begin to really shape their identity or become self-aware until late in the toddler stages. The way they start to communicate with others, be it screaming when upset, or giving high fives when they meet someone new, are what people say are the early stages of developing one’s identity. As these toddlers grow up, and interact with other toddlers, they will meet those who will want to continue being with them, who enjoy their company. They call this special relationship between humans friendship. This connection called friendship can deeply affect a person’s identity and sense of self over the course of their entire life.
From a young age, all humans are very impressionable. When their little minds start working and understanding the world around them, it is first up to the parent’s to teach them right from wrong. Parents’ end to mold their kids to think and act like them; like a mini-me of sorts. They can teach them to think like them, and act like them all throughout their life. Parents have a big effect on their child’s identity. This effect, however, can become completely reversed as their child begins to form friendships.
Once kids become teenagers, even tweens, they hold their friends’ opinions on a much higher threshold than they do their parents’. Teens will often go against the ways they were taught by their parents in order to be more like their friends and peers. Why is this? Everyone, every human being, has the unconscious desire to fit in, to be liked. This desire is present the most when a kid is in school, because of concepts such as peer pressure. Peer pressure can be both harmful and beneficial, at all ages. These friends may change as the child gets older, but the effects they may have on that person’s identity will be just as impactful. A person’s friends, teenagers especially, are closer most of the time than that person’s family to them. Their opinions often matter more, and they can usually have a greater influence and impact on that person’s life and decisions. Why? Well, people, and again, teenagers especially, like to ‘fit in’. Everyone, despite it being a conscious thought or not, longs to feel like they belong somewhere; to be accepted and loved by the people around them.
I know, from personal experience, that people will often change parts of themselves in order to satiate that need for acceptance. These changes can be as simple as using new slang, buying a new lipstick color, to more extreme cases such as drinking alcohol or doing drugs. Now, obviously, all of these cases vary in extremity, but that brings up very important questions related to how friends can affect a person’s sense of self and their identity. Does it make it okay to change who you are if the changes are minor? Does the variety of change outweigh the broken morals? In my opinion, and according to many others, no, it is not okay to let someone, anyone, change your identity.
Upon doing a lot of research on this topic, I found everything from personal experiences to psychology theories. Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD wrote an article for WebMD titled 4 Ways Your Friends Shape Your Future. In this article, Phelps writes, “Friends influence each other’s personal preferences and lifestyles. When friends share music and see each other’s clothes or decorating, their tastes can rub off on each other. This influence might be relatively trivial, but it might also have a more significant impact. For instance, it can affect how you choose to spend your money, such as buying more things, going on more vacations, or saving for a rainy day. It can also affect how you spend your time, like choosing to do charitable work versus spending more time chilling out with a glass of wine. And friends can influence each other’s lifestyles, such as their eating habits and how they prioritize exercise. These kinds of decisions can directly affect your health and happiness.” I agree with her and can relate to this quote.In my experience, I have changed so much about myself- my hairstyle, the makeup I wore, and the way I spoke-just to fit in with people who, in the end, abandoned me and hurt me. I did so much, lost who I was, just for those five seconds of middle school popularity and fame. Many people prioritize their friends opinions and will often change themselves if their friends think their current self is lackluster. A lot of people can be sensitive to suggestion. If they see a friend they trust and consider close spend a lot of money on clothes, they will most likely trust their judgement and want to do the same. They will often do this despite maybe not being able to afford it or using their parents’ money without their permission. These decisions and changes may seem small, but can affect a tween for the rest of their life. Those small decisions can change their identity well into their adult lives.
All of the ideas and questions that were discussed all come back to one simple claim; Friends and relationships in a person’s life can greatly affect their identity in their future both for better and for worse. Speaking for myself, I can easily confirm this idea. I have changed my identity and the way I present myself countless times just to get a small taste of what it’s like to fit in, only to be left in the dust, hurt and lost. Those changes helped me realize my true self; pushed me to become a better version of myself in the future. I let the hurt caused by those lessons remind me to stay true to myself and not change for anyone but myself. I changed for myself because I realized it wasn’t worth it to change for others. My identity is my own to create and express. It is mine, and no one else’s to decide; and neither should yours.
Literacy is a quite complicated idea, you can’t just look at it on a surface level, it is an idea that needs to be explored and thoroughly discussed. In my life, the way that I understand the world and the way that I understand human language and communication definitely affects me in my everyday life and continues to with every new person that I meet. James Baldwin reveals an interesting element of language in his article If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?, “Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker.” I relate to this quote very strongly in the sense that know that the way I present myself and the way I speak reflects who I am as a person. I belong to many social communities, where the culture varies and the people are very diverse.
Many, including myself, love to be close to their families in any way they can. Personally, since I am mixed, Puerto Rican and white, my family is quite diverse. At home with just my mother, I can be myself and speak the way I want to because I know she’ll understand and accept me that way. When I’m with her side of the family however, I tend to be more reserved. My mother’s side of the family is composed of people from Jewish descent; very sophisticated and successful people that are nice to be around. Even so, when I am with them, I don’t speak as loud, I don’t express political views, and I don’t talk about my personal struggles out of fear of not being understood and accepted. My belonging to other communities such as the LGBTQ+ community might not be as accepted with certain members of my family, so I often keep my voice to myself to avoid conflict. I sit a little taller, hold my tongue, and eat a little more proper to avoid judgement and resentment. Though I do often doubt that I will be judged, I fear that my form of literacy, the way that I see and understand the world, might not be as accepted as I hope it might be.
On the other hand, my father’s side of the family is quite different. My dad was born in Puerto Rico, so his side is very loud and hilarious. I love being around this side of my family, but I can’t help but feel a disconnect. They speak spanish quite often, and when they do, I don’t feel as close to them as I should. I always end up thinking does that even really matter? Just because I don’t speak their language, does that mean I’m not as close to them? I always wonder if the language barrier between me and my father’s family is one of the reasons that we aren’t as close. Even so, we do find ways to communicate when we are together. We speak a mixture of spanish and english to almost create our own form of literacy. A way only the Rivera Family speaks to one another. Our form of literacy in our family means alot to us.
Regarding the LGBTQ+ community, I always feel more comfortable when I’m around others that are like me. I feel way more comfortable expressing my social and political views, because I feel like I’m around more accepting people. I never have to hold my tongue, because I know they’ll understand me and my beliefs. The way that members of the LGBTQ+ community speak to others and each other are definitely different. Making jokes and sarcastic comments is more fun with others like you who will understand and get them compared to trying to make a “gay joke” around someone with no knowledge of the community who might think you’re being “offensive.” This happens quite often, and it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t a part of the community just why certain expressions are offensive. There have been many times where I’ve stopped to correct someone, and have given up trying to explain out of frustration due to lack of communication. There was a specific time that I can recall where I’ve had to speak up to ignorance.
Everytime I enter SLA, I remember how lucky I am to be in such an inclusive school. ‘Safe Space’ stickers line many windows and door frames to assure that the good intentions and message of the school and staff are clear, “You are safe here.” I see the colored flags on the shirts of my teachers and I always release the breathe I didn’t know I was holding each time.
The staff has never been much of the issue, but it is a different story when walking the lone, spacious hallways; you’ll never know just what you’ll hear.
It was mid-morning, around the time of the first lunch period. The hallways were crowded with teenagers and echoing with the mixture of songs from individual speakers. I was walking from the office to the store when overheard one conversation that was louder than the rest.
One boy had sat down quite harshly on another boy’s lap, and he didn’t seem to happy about it as I could tell from the groans and sounds of protest coming from underneath the first boy. I had stopped to speak to a friend when I heard an exchange that made the breath catch in my throat.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing? What are you gay or something?”
The boy on his lap laughed and stood up quickly at the ‘accusation.’
“No! I’m not a fag!”
I looked at the person I was speaking with and we nodded together and turned towards the two boys.
“Hey,” I started, “That’s not okay, you can’t say that.”
The boys snickered.
“It was just a joke! Come on.”
I rolled my eyes, not like I wasn’t expecting that one.
“Look, it’s a slur, so you shouldn’t say it especially when it’s not your term to reclaim anyway. You’re not gay.” I tried to explain it as simply as I could.
“But we were just joking, it’s not like it means anything,” one of them argued, the point soaring over his head.
I shook my head in disappointment and turned away, I couldn’t be bothered to try to explain more to two pieces of drywall.
There have been many more times like that moment, some more upsetting than others, but the frustration comes from the same issue. The lack of communication between both LGBT and Non-LGBT is frustrating. Appropriating the forms of literacy each community has to offend the other is harmful, especially when one side doesn’t understand why they are wrong. It’s an issue I and many others have to deal with on a daily basis.
When I was young, I wasn’t sure who I would grow up to be. I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to pursue, what city I wanted to live in, what school I wanted to go to, I was just going through the motions of growing up. Literacy means alot to me in many aspects of my life. At my current age, I am a part of many different communities and families, and I don’t completely act the same when I am with each. The kind of code-switching that I do between each community makes up my identity, it doesn’t split me into different people. Every side of myself that I show to different groups of people are all individual aspects of myself, and all together those traits and forms of literacy that I speak with and see the world with come together to make up all of who I am today.
Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 July 1979, www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html.
For as long as I can remember, I've always been a free spirit. I was someone who, when comfortable, could express my opinions and thoughts without caring what other people think. I was raised to make my own choices, and those lessons I learned stuck with me, even when I felt like I was being caged in. I always remembered that no matter what, no matter who you were, nobody, not even myself, could cage my free spirit.
From the time I was born, my family was always open, there were no such thing as secrets. We were raised to be the same way. If we ever had a question, my parents would always provide an answer as best they could; like the time when I was at my uncle’s house for Christmas. The house was beautifully and intricately decorated. There were strings upon strings of both colored and white bulbs lining the railings and walls along with long strings of shiny green, red, and white garland. The whole house shone and sparkled as bright as the pretty star on top of his six foot tree.
“Mommy, why is Uncle Billy holding hands with that other man?”
“Well sweetie, that’s his boyfriend. That's the way Uncle Billy always been. He loves boys, and always will, and that's okay.”
“Oh, okay, Mommy! Do you think they will get married?”
We were always taught to be ourselves; dance like nobody's watching, sing like nobody's listening, dress for your own fashion show, walk to the beat of our own drum. It's just how my life was, and I loved being able to be myself and make my own choices. I loved feeling so free as a child.
However, things started to change when I started elementary school.
All throughout elementary and middle school I was forced to conform, and shamed for being different. It didn’t matter how small the issue was, I was punished for breaking rules and being a “distraction.”
The dress code for my old school was ridiculous. Every shirt you wore had to have the school logo on them, all bottoms must be khaki or blue for gym days, and every shoe had to be brown for regular days and all white for gym days. All shirts had to be tucked in, no exceptions. Boys were not, under any circumstance, to be without a belt, or have their hair lay past their collar. Girls were not, under any circumstance, allowed to wear pants or shorts, have crazy hairstyles or colors, or have a skirt that was too short. That is just the short of it.
I used to get dress coded and punished often, even if the issue was minor. There was the time when I was in sixth grade. It was lunchtime and I had gotten out of my seat in the middle of the room to go buy a snack from the display of starches and sweets they had at the back wall of the cafeteria. The lady running the table gave me a bright smile and let me select and pay for my snack with ease. As I was turning around to return to my seat, I was met with the dark blue fabric of a sweatshirt, and stumbled back in surprise. I looked up to meet the cold sneer of the cafeteria security guard, Mr. Moon.
“H-hi, Mr. Moon…” I said softly.
He continued to stare blankly at me
“Your shirt,” he deadpanned.
My eyes moved nervously side to side in their sockets.
“What about it?”
“It’s untucked. Why?”
“Oh uh...it felt too tight and I got uncomfortable, so I untucked it.”
“It’s still against the rules, go to the bathroom and fix it, or it’s a demerit.”
I gulped and accepted my defeat, retreating into the bathroom.
I felt caged my entire elementary and middle school career, and I knew I didn't like it. So when I got into eighth grade, I finally took charge. I started leaving my shirt out more often, and after multiple warnings, the teachers eventually gave up. I started listening to my music louder; the sound of long guitar riffs and heavy drums physically making my peers flinch in fear. I stopped letting people treat me as if I was below them, I started to stand up for myself and argue back. I remember the feeling I got when I would beat kids in an argument and see them slink away in shame and embarrassment.
Things got better when I graduated. I felt free from the chains that middle school put on me. At my new high school, I was able to express myself how I wanted. I took my new found freedom and flew with it. I cut my hair and dyed my hair crazy colors, I bought more clothes that were my style, and I stopped keeping secrets and came out to my immediate family and friends. I wanted to go to my new school as the real me, not the me that my middle school tried to make me.
With that attitude in mind, I’ve managed to make it to my junior year of high school confident and happy. I haven’t let anyone hold me back from expressing myself how I wanted to, whether it be how loudly I spoke in a class discussion or how I wore my hair. I love the freedom that being at SLA gives me, it feels good not to be in a cage anymore. I want everyone to feel the same way I do. I want everyone who is too scared to be themselves, to know that it’s okay to be you. It’s not easy being comfortable with yourself, but with a little practice, and the freedom to be as expressive as you want, I know that everyone can fly just as high as I can.
-Ludlow & 13th Street -This mural shows how the community it is placed in is like a family. The mural gives a warm message about feeling at home in your community. The community is very accepting of its residents and welcoming to those who want to join it. -The pictures on the side -The hand holding the word ”Family” -It is a symbol of the togetherness and acceptance of the community
I did it...I actually did it… I actually did it! I mean, I don’t know how, but I did it. I guess all of that studying really paid off! I’ll have to remind myself to go and thank Liz for those notes! I seriously couldn’t have done it without her! The only real reason I passed was her. I’m not even remotely as smart as her.
She really is great. I mean... it’s no wonder she has so many friends. No, no, no, this is not about Liz. This isn’t about Liz and her smartness, or how pretty she is, or how nice she is to everyone....how skinny she is and how all her clothes fit her nicely, or even about how all of those guys seem to just always want her, or-
It’s not about any of those things. Shit, why am I mad at Liz? She was just being nice. God, I gotta stop. This is about me...how I passed the test. So what if she helped me? I mean, I was the one who took the test, not her. It’s not like I cheated! I just got some help...and help is...okay. It’s fine to get help sometimes.
Yeah, right….help. Of course I needed help, I mean, when do I not. I’m practically fucking useless in class anyway. I never pay attention, I can never ask questions because that’s too freakin’ stressful. I mean, it’s terrifying! I can’t handle that kind of attention on me. What if I ask a really dumb question? How freaking embarrassing would that be? That would just show everyone just how fucking dumb I really am, hah…
Look at me having a pity party for myself. I can’t believe how selfish I am. There are people who have it so much worse than I do, and I’m complaining? Wow, what gives me the right to be sad anyway? I should just...stop. God, I am just so...ridiculous. I’m always sad for no reason, like what the hell even is that? Every little thing makes me upset; even if someone even raises their voice at me. I mean, hell, I probably deserve it.
I probably do deserve it. I mean...look at me. All I ever do is complain; I’m selfish, I’m senseless, and I’m practically irrelevant. I’m moronic, I’m careless; all I ever do is let everyone down. I’m bitter, I’m pathetic, I’m inadequate. I can’t do anything right, I can’t even ask my teachers to go to the bathroom half the time! !
Alex?Huh I wonder…
“hey i know you've been really sad and stuff so i thought we'd go out to lunch tomorrow? idk, if you feel up to it. good job on your test today! i knew you could do it! ily, hon! stay strong!”
...I...you know what, what am i doing? I'm completely overreacting. Getting help is…okay. Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. I don't know what i was thinking. Heh...I guess I still haven't beat my demons huh?
I stepped back a bit to let the bus slide in front of me. The doors opened and stepped up, sliding my trans pass through the scanner. I turned on my heel, glancing around the bus for a seat. I noticed an old lady staring at me, face contorted in disgust; I shrugged her off. I couldn’t find a seat, so I instead started to walk towards the back door to lean against the wall. I was stopped by the little old lady sitting in the front.
Without warning, she screamed, “Shave it off, whore!”
I looked at her, frozen in slight shock. The rest of the people on the bus turned their heads at the shout, eyes blown wide. Once I got over the slight shock, I looked at her in the eyes, stomach slightly shaking and eyes watering. My head bowed, slight hiccuping noises escaping my taught mouth; I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
I threw my head back and let out a hearty laugh, extremely amused by the outburst. Her face got angrier and angrier the more I laughed. I laughed right in her face and turned away, going to stand in the back of the bus. I shook my head in amusement, giggling quietly to myself.
The concept of a society is a funny thing, isn’t it? This thing that we call ‘Society’ practically rules our lives and determines our place in the world. The real definition of society, “..the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community,” does not seem to match the definition us as a society created and live by. What we know as ‘Society’ has become its own entity, becoming more of a sort of rule book rather than a group of people. Society tells you how to exist has a human in a society, with rules on: what to watch on T.V., what to eat, who to worship, what celebrities to have a crush, but the biggest ones have to be what to wear and what to look like.
Me? Yeah, I definitely don’t fit into those standards. I have my head shaved in a masculine way, my hair is dyed an unnatural color, I have piercings in places that aren’t my ears, I either wear clothing that is too masculine or too revealing, I am not lady-like in any sense, I swear like a sailor, I’m not heterosexual, and I voice my opinions and stand my ground. All of what makes up me goes against mainstream standards for teenage females. I get comments all the time about how pretty I would be if dressed like a girl, or how I am a sinner for going against God’s ideal for how a woman should look, but, personally, I don’t really care. As I grew up, I grew a thick skin and sense of self-love, so I learned not to care about what people think. I never follow society’s rules, because frankly, they’re stupid. I am a leader, not a follower, and I believe that everyone should be one too. Be your own leader, make your own decisions, screw society. Be your own person, and love yourself.
Mi nombre es Liliana Rivera.
La hija de un papá que vive Puerto Rico,
Y una mamá de Filadelfia,
Pero la nieta de inmigrantes.
Tengo tres hermanos,
Tres hermanos quíen son muy diferentes,
Pero toda mi familia es muy diferente.
Veo pelo loco.
Saboreo el arroz amarillo y frijoles de mis padres y mis abuelos,
Una tradición de la familia Rivera.
Oigo la música rock,
La favorita de la familia Rivera.
Huelo el perfume “Angel” de mi mamá,
Es mi favorita olol.
Toco las manos de mis sobrinos,
Los niños de mi hermana.
Escucho música rock, es muy importante para mi.
Cocinamos con mi mamá, nos conecta.
Celebrando con mi familia siempre y es divertido.
Necesito mi familia, me importa mucho.
Nosotros, mi hermana y yo,
Somos productos de Puerto Rico y Rusia.
Nacimos judios puertorriqueños norteamericanos.
Nacimos en la encrucijada.
Somos diferentes pero juntos.
Mi papá está muerto, nosotros nunca lo olvidamos.
Nosotros queremos ser fuerte.
Desde que nací, me encanta mi familia.
Somos todo lo que tenemos,Nosotros somos una familia
For my Macbeth Creative Project, I decided to create a Playbill. I choose this option because I thought it would be interesting to create a modern version of Macbeth with actors that are popular today. I know that it has been done before, but I thought it would be fun since I get to make the casting decisions and such.
One of the main aspects of this project was the actors/actresses that would be bringing the play to life. What I did to decide, was sit down and really think about the personalities of the characters that we really got to know in the play, and see if I knew any actors/actresses with similar personalities, or who I think could do a good job taking on that personality. Some of the easiest casting decisions was Macbeth (Johnny Depp), Lady Macbeth (Helena Bonham-Carter), and Hecate (Maggie Smith) to name a few. I choose Johnny Depp to take on the role of Macbeth because I know how much of a versatile actor he is. I have also seen him act as many characters with such different personalities, for example, he was Edward Scissorhands in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). I also chose Helena Bonham Carter for the same reasons, her being a very versatile actress, and her ability to become very cruel and kind characters, for example, Bellatrix Lestrange in David Yates’ adaptations of the final three Harry Potter books made into four movies: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1&2. I also choose Maggie Smith as the head witch because of her amazing performance as Professor McGonagall in all the Harry Potter movies.
For the costume decisions, I basically just created a set of my own choices for the tops, bottoms, etc. The website I used is called Polyvore, which contains a lot of modern day clothing, with the ability to make a collage of the ones you choose, which was perfect for this project. I chose to focus on our two main characters, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, and choose what they might wear in this production.
When deciding on the stage layout, I kept it very simple. I based on most stage/set layouts of other productions. I also incorporated what I thought was best and made the most sense.
Lastly, for the ads, I decided to base them around the actors and actresses seen the the play. I know that when I go to see a movie or a play, I always see one of the really great performers and wonder what else they have done. That is what I based my ads around. I knew that Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter were going to be acting together in an upcoming movie, so I incorporated that, and I also know that Tim Curry stars in a movie that is celebrating their fortieth anniversary this year, so I put that in as well.
Casi siempre, soy
tranquila y fiel
Cuando tengo tiempre libre, me encanta jugar videojueogs,
hablar por teléfono con mis amigos y escuchar musica por muchas horas.
No soy ni codiciosa,