Who Am I Essay Example
“Who am I?” a question that we have all asked ourselves to better understand who we are and how the characteristics that define us came to be. Our identity is our perception of ourselves but how was it established? Did we one day decide who we wanted to be and start acting that way or was it predetermined or influenced by some other factor? Many may assume that their identity is their own, shaped by the choices that they make in their everyday lives. I, on the other hand, am more convinced by the readings, “Masks and The “F Word” that identity is developed from the culture that surrounds them. Identities can be influenced by many different parts of culture but the need to or feeling of belonging to a particular group can change how a person views themselves.
One of the bigger characteristics that people might base their identities in our culture is their physical appearance and how they compare to others. This is a common thought because generally speaking it is easy to make judgments based on someone’s looks. In the autobiography “Masks”, Lucy Grealy recalls how her identity as a cancer patient and that of someone who was “ugly” which made her feel alienated from the culture because she felt as though she couldn’t truly be herself or like everyone else. In the reading, she recalls how her childhood consisted of being ridiculed because of her looks so often that she realized eat an early age that, “for the first time I definitely identified the source of my unhappiness as being ugly” (Grealy 56).
The author goes on to say that she had accepted that her bad looks were a part of her identity because, in our culture, physical appearance can get people to accept you more and in her case, she was shunned and teased relentlessly by some of her classmates. This combined with her loss of hair and scars left over from her cancer treatment made her stand out and that the only moments where she felt truly happy was when she was covering up those parts of herself.
She felt trapped within her own identity, not capable of expressing herself until she put on a mask hiding her “identity” did she, “realized how meek I’d become, how self-conscious I was about my face until now that it was obscured” (Drealy 53). Because, in reality, Lucy was far more capable than she realized, going through chemotherapy and enduring constant bullying she proved to the readers that she was strong, but because of how much our culture puts an emphasis on physical looks the only thing she identified with was that of a person with an “ugly” face and was special because of her condition which kept her from others. She was not born with this identity nor did she pick it for herself, instead, it was cultivated by people who she wanted to be like.
Another reading that demonstrates how identity is shaped by cultural factors is in the essay The “F word” by Firoozeh Dumas, who not only experienced bullying because her name but saw how it also negatively affected the lives of her brothers and friends. When she had decided to create a new identity for herself and went by “Julie” instead, she saw how different people expressed their true feelings about “damn I-raynians” which made her feel like she was “fake” because they would have never said those things to her is she was still Firoozeh. Her difficult to pronounce name cause her to be less accepted because America is, “A country where monosyllabic names reign supreme” (Dumas 78).
Since many names in our culture are shortened, people with more foreign-sounding names with more syllables often stand out. Dumas makes a great point because who would ever really think that their name would prove to be such an obstacle in their future. Fortunately, today many are more accepting of people's names so their identities can be whatever they want it to be rather than what people decide for them based on a name that they had no control over. To put it differently, her identity as Fireoozeh was much more difficult than when she lived as Julie, because of the name change she felt as though she lost her identity itself being forced to play the role of two characters, all for the sake of fitting in and being accepted.
The two readings provided have a similar connection because they demonstrate your identity can be shaped by culture if you stand out a certain way or don’t fit the “norm” your experiences in life can vary drastically from someone who matches cultural expectations. Considering this, I agree with the way the sources presented the experiences of the authors because it’s more relatable for the audience to know that they are both aware that others may view them in a more negative context which caused them to stand out more from the crowd but at the same time try and be themselves. Then again this assumption today has diminished as the people tend to be more understanding as well as future generations are encouraged and given more opportunities to explore what has influenced them to become who they are today.
For the most part, cultures can shape us because to feel as though we belong and are accepted by others we make changes to ourselves that we may not even realize. Identity is molded by the culture that surrounds during our early years of development long before we even realized it, we can try to make our identity our own but deep down we will reflect how society views us.