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Humans are social creatures. We yearn for companionship and acceptance. This is why we identify ourselves to certain groups and as certain members of a culture, so we can have the common ground to socialize with one another. This is how we connect with others. This connection helps foster understanding. In the education world, students who identify with certain groups similar to that of their teachers will have more common ground and will relate to the teacher more, resulting in them learning more materials than those that do not share similar backgrounds or cultures.
How we identify and what we identify with makes up our identity. Identity is how we identify ourselves in relations to others. For one, I identify myself as a sister. That’s one aspect of my identity, being an older sister. That identification is related to my younger sibling. Without a sibling, I cannot identify as a sister, and therefore being an older sister is not a part of my identity. Our identity reflects who we are and we build our communities around that. All the ways we identify ourselves encompasses our identity. It is how we relate to others and it determines how well we understand others.
In class, we approached the topic of cultural identity and how it ties in with socialization. There are twelve sources that we talked about: race, ethnicity, social class, gender, health, age, geographic region, sexuality, religion, social status, language, and ability. We all identify within each of that region. Certain aspects are more important than others, depending on the person. It also depends on the circumstances. My answer today can be totally different tomorrow, or a couple years down the road. Our life experiences and the people we meet helps give us our identity and our own personal understanding. That day-to-day growth can have a huge impact on us and will certainty change how we identity ourselves. Along with that, what is really important to us will also shift.
Reflecting and understanding this can help us better understand ourselves and then we can focus on understanding others. Right now, the two most important sources of my cultural identities are my sexuality and age. I choose sexuality because that’s one aspect of myself that I do not fully understand or fully embrace yet. It’s something that I distant myself from yet I feel it defines me. It plagues my thoughts at the most inconvenient time. Do I limit myself? Do I label myself? I read somewhere a long time ago, and I unfortunately do not remember the full statement, but the author essentially said that he hates it when people ask him to describe himself in one word, because the answer they are looking for limits him and denotes the impossibility of change. That is something that always stays with me, especially when I’m talking about my sexuality. A part of me does not care about labels, arguing that I can like whomever I like regardless of how I want to identify; another part wants a clear label on it so I can identify with a certain group and find a common ground with people within the group. It yearns for understanding. That’s the main reason why sexuality is one of the most important to me. The other is age. Sometimes, I feel that I’m only nineteen whereas other times, I feel that I’m already nineteen. Nineteen years of going through routines and still not knowing what I am truly passionate about. Yet, I’m only nineteen; I have the rest of my life to understand myself. Age is so important to me because it signifies my life, and the fact that I’m still breathing. It also taunts me. It screeches at me in the middle of the night: nineteen, already an adult, yet still confines; free but still wears a chain. I suppose I feel that this is my time to be selfish. My body is still young. I should be traveling the world, bungee jumping in Bali, skydiving in New Zealand, acting like a completely idiotic tourist in Scotland, being an immature brat in Amsterdam. Yet I’m here, nineteen, already an adult in the eyes of the court, but only a child to society. That’s why age is so important to my identity right now. It is a constant struggle between childhood and adulthood.
This certainty influences the people I choose to socialize with. For example, I distant myself from close-minded people, at least in terms of sexuality. I’m sure I can learn a lot from them and come to understand why they are not open to all the different sexuality terms and identifiers. I had a friend who refuses to believe bisexual exist. She insists that people are either straight or not. To her, sexuality is a binary with no in-betweens. Needless to say, we are no longer close friends. I suppose that makes me close-minded too because I find myself unintentionally distantly myself away from her. The cultural identity I took upon myself reflects who I am. This identity influence how I socialize with others. In this one particular example, I severe our friendship. She was a great friend, incredibly talented with her drawing skills and always willing to draw whatever her friends ask of her. I could have learned a lot about drawing through her. She could have impacted the way I see and understand drawings. I could have a better appreciation for all the different shadings techniques and tools. That never happens though because the way we identify sexuality is far too different. In the end, I still do not know how shading a picture works. This shows that our cultural identity is extremely important to us. It impacts the way we create connections with other people. We can socialize more, and in turn, learn more, if we are from the same group with similar understandings.
All the different ways we identity reflects our identity. This is how we can connect to other people. As humans, we yearn to create bonds with others. We want to socialize. We do this by identifying with others without our own groups. We learn through them and we learn with them. Since we have stuff in common, it is easy to relate to them and learn from them. Understanding the way we identify ourselves and why we identify as such can certainty help us be more open to learning new ideas from people we do not group ourselves with.
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