Identity is now so hard to define. No longer as simple as whom am I? Identity is it solid or fixed? Neither is it constantly changing from birth till death. In addition to the problems faced with growing a developing an individual also faces problems from ideas surrounding personal problems. These can be examples from the environmental influence, such as arriving into a new school or even a new culture.
These experiences can be both positive and negative though, negative as they may leave an individual disillusioned with their direction and place in life, yet positive in the way that an individual may feel reinvigorated and their perception of personal boundaries removed. Growing up in Australia is a short collection of stories from various artists that entails their stories of being different to others and the challenges that they faced in order to fit in when their identities are so different.
Sticks and Stones and Such Like by Sunil Badima is a story about How being different, can isolate an individual and make it difficult for them to belong. The main difference in this story is the name Sunil, it singled him out and showed his different nature compared to everyone else. The way that people couldn’t pronounce it only served to exacerbate his push for a more ‘western’ name, Neil. This changing of an identity, from the Indian Sunil to the Aussie Neil, represents how people are willing to change and conform in order to fit in and be accepted by others, even going so far as to forego cultural preoccupations.
How to be Japanese by Leanne Hall is a story that Discusses the stereotypes that exist, the racial prejudices that those from a culture deemed the minority are subject to. An individual cannot control how they look yet they’re judged about this. The cultural differences usually hinder an individual, whereby once cultural values sporting exploits as that of success another views success educationally as high marks, yet it is the minority group which is subjected to being stereotyped.
This stereotyping is an action that removes an individual’s identity, placing an individual into a wider group whereby they lose their identity, given a set of predetermined characteristics, which is extremely common amongst the racial groups, e. g. the Japanese love hello Kitty. Reveals how a loss of identity can occur as an individual is adjudged to be something else before qifference, alienating them, difficult to conform. A personal identity is impossible without belonging to a family, society and culture.
Without Belonging to a group somewhere an individual cannot hope to find their identity, the two are inextricably linked. Without a place in the world, an individual is lost and cannot hope to find their place. This is shown progressively throughout the film of ‘Skin’. Because Sandra is coloured and her parents and brother are white, she is constantly confused about her identity and who exactly she is. rBelonging is an innate predisposition that majority of the populous seek the feeling of acceptance and a place in the groups ranks offers.
Once Sandra relises she can’t find this within her family and the society she grew up in she looks to the Black people of South Africa to find a sense of belonging. Belonging to a group offers a sense of security and acceptance that people seek. It is through this environment that an individual will learn and their identity flourishes under the experiences of the group and that of their own, belonging to a group reaffirms our own identity. Whilst belonging to a group may culminate in the formation of an identity, this may not be the true potential of the individual.
This influence may upon an individual’s identity may be detrimental, their identity a mere extension of the group’s prerogative. May also lead to an individual being stereotyped and/or alienating their past. Therefore those that cannot belong or alienate themselves from the rest of society struggle to find their place in the world, they are constantly drifting, the question of who am I, left unanswered. This is emphasised throughout the film Skin as Sandra is constantly changing her state as a white South African to a colored South African, so that she is able to find a sense of identity and belonging.
People are put into groups, like family and school, and this is a struggle when it conflicts with identity. Whilst belonging to a group, the choice to conform is one that most people must make, we are all born into a group of some degree. Yet it is this place within a group, the arrangement of parameters that can lead to conflict surrounding an individual’s identity. When we are born, we are born into a family environment, born into a group already.
Yet through this group, as individual’s we learn and model ourselves off the actions of those in the group, the decisions and perceptions of its members are reaffirmed onto our own. Yet this predetermined group can cause problems for our identity as individuals. This family whilst providing a base from which an identity can develop, also masks an individual’s identity, the individual may have of been raised in the interests of the group, unfulfilling their true potential. Moreover this placement of an individual occurs through other avenues of life as well.
At school an individual may be labelled, stereotyped in a particular way based upon something as simple as they way in which they dress. This stereotyping and prejudice can breed only conflict within an individual as they struggle to determine who they truly are, are they the person they are perceived as? Or are they more? Furthermore in order to fit into a group, an individual’s conformity may be misaligned with the values and perceptions of this group, only giving birth to further conflict surrounding an individual’s identity.
They struggle to find who the truly are, their true identity against the restraints that conformity offers them. There is conflict between identity and belonging. Where conflict is resolved it is good for the individual’s identity. The need to belong is an innate predisposition for most humans. As we are social creatures we seek a place in the world, a place where we can be accepted, a place of security. Yet in our willingness to conform, conflict can arise between an individual’s identity and that of the group.
This discrepancy something that breeds only discontent as an individual discovers that the interest of the group may be misaligned to those of their own. Furthermore in a group the needs of the group are put before those of the individual, thereby stifling the true identity. Yet this creates further conflict as some of the decisions of the group, the choices that it makes may not be reflective of those of the individual. As the individual takes second wrung to the needs of the group, the individual may become discontent about where they are, questioning their own identity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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