What is identity? We know from intuitive self-awareness that personal identity exists. It seems to be a fact of conscious life, as common as the word “I.” But the real question is how to define it? I have come to realize that there is no set definition on what makes an identity, so if my understanding is correct anything and everything can make an identity. There is no wrong answer. It varies from person to person. For example Andre Dubus, the author of “Witness”makes his identity clear through stories in which he shows his disability. In his case having a disability is part of his identity “I cannot stand or walk . . . I cannot live as normals do.”
As for myself, I can relate, although not to the extent as Dubus, I can understand the anger that goes along with a disability. My disability is anemia, and while most people that suffer from anemia do not see anything other than minor side effects, I do. I am severely anemic, and so it affects my everyday life. I have trouble getting up in the morning because I am too tired, even after a good night sleep. I have to take iron pills and I eat red meat almost every day. Furthermore, I have seen more doctors than I wish to remember and they all tell me the same thing “you’ll grow out of it.” “Really, thanks Doctor, you’ve been so helpful,” I reply sarcastically. Few people know about my sickness, which I plan to keep that way. For some reason I feel that if many people knew about it they would feel bad for me, and could possibly think I was weak, which is the last thing that I want.
Part of my identity is being strong and un-afraid, which is a difficult thing to pull off for a girl. Dave Barry the author of “Guys vs. Men” thinks that a lot of men give “guys” a bad name. Just like Barry I think that a lot of girls give females a bad name. Let me explain. I think that a lot of girls are overly dramatic, way too emotional, and acted dumber than they really are, for reasons that are very unclear to me. I know that I am feeding into the stereotype, but some girls fit the stereotype too well to not comment on.
I refuse to take guff from anyone, unless I deserve it, and I speak what is on my mind. I have heard that I can be very threatening, but I do not believe that I should refrain from speaking my mind when I see it necessary. In Keith Bradshers essay “Reptile Dreams” Clotaire Rapaille describes teens very well by commenting that “They want to give the message, …’I want to be able to fight back, don’t mess with me.'” Clotaire seems to sum up the thoughts of the American youth very well, or at least me. I think that I acquired that aspect of my identity from when I lived in Los Angeles. Zora Neal Hurston explains it well “I left Eatonville, …as Zora…When I disembarked on the river boat…She was no more,” in her essay “How if feels to be Colored Me.”She expressed exactly how I felt when I moved to Sacramento. I felt like I wasn’t myself anymore.
When I lived in Los Angeles I developed an eclectic personality; because I was friends with so many different types of people I took on other aspects of my personality. Unfortunately because I lived in LA I always had to have my guard up, im not sure how to explain it correctly other than, if you lived there you would understand. For the most part everyone had to fend for themselves, and if you weren’t able to do that than you were a follower of someone who did. I later came to realize that ones sense of self, or ones identity is developed through, among other things, external influences including friends, family, and situations.
Now looking back I can see where I have gotten my attitude. I’m smart mouthed, sarcastic, and blunt. Through those traits I have also acquired nicknames. A recent nickname as of this summer was, “Ms. Attitude.” This summer I went wake-boarding with some family friends, their friends, and my best friend. So basically it was my friend and I, and 7 guys. What I came to realize though this summer, is that most guys aren’t used to girls that talk back. Because I am very sarcastic the guys were very surprised, which is why I developed the nickname. They thought it was hilarious, and I was recently told by one of them that they miss my attitude, so I guess I left an impression. What is shocking to me though, is that I usually get that reaction from most guys, which leads me to believe that they have never met any girls from LA.
I moved last summer before senior year to Granite Bay, and attended Granite Bay High School my senior year. I moved from my moms house to my dads house, willingly, to avoid a lot of un-necessary drama. The move was quite unexpected for everyone but myself. I left because I came to realize that my friends were no longer my friends. Many of my friends had begun to do some very hard drugs, and so I no longer wanted to be around them. I knew it was a bad environment, so I left. I have always been very independent and have never relied on anyone else to make decisions for me.
I only did what I thought was right, yet after sharing my story with a few new friends in Nor*Cal I witnessed a lot of jaw-dropping, everyone thought that it was such a big deal. My identity quickly developed, I was the girl from L.A. I valued that identity, I almost felt like superman, I was Clark Kent when I was home in LA, and Superman when I was in Sacramento. I say Superman because a lot of people kind of looked at me like that, like I was invincible. I was like nothing any of them were used to. Other than being influenced from where one lives or lived, I believe that family can have a huge impact on ones identity.
For instance, because I was raised by my mom, I turned out differently than if I was raised by my dad. If I was raised by my dad I think I would have turned out much more emotionally detached, and much more independent. I say this because my dads a guy, he doesn’t seem to care about anything other than himself and definitely shows no sign of emotion or feeling, that means no hugs. If I was raised by him Im sure I would have had a job at thirteen and would probably be living on my own now.
But because I was raised by my mom I grew being very spoiled, because my mom believes that school is more important than work so I was never allowed to get a job. Unfortunately I grew up having everything handed to me. Which is good because I got everything that I wanted very easily, but bad because I got used to having everything handed to me. In addition, because I grew up living with my mom I became more compassionate and caring because that’s what I was taught. I consider the way I was raised part of my identity, I grew up with very strong ties to my family and that’s part of who I am.
In conclusion, I believe that there is no one way to decipher where an identity can come from. So once again what is identity? humans are the only animal that can be aware of oneself, and so we are also the only animal to contemplate who we are, and why we are that way. Through this constant mission of self discovery everyone seems to have an ever-changing view on their personal identity. It is a fact of conscious life, as common as the word “I,” to want to know who we are.
I have come to realize that there is no set definition on what makes an identity, so if my understanding is correct anything and everything can make an identity. There is no wrong answer. It seems to vary from person to person and if any given event, person, action, etc, has effected someone greatly enough it can become part of their identity, even unknowingly. For me writing this paper was a mission of self discovery, I have never really considered who I am other than the obvious. I now know who I am and why I am the way I am. To me that was the hardest thing to answer. Why?