Family Heritage and Values
My own family heritage is rather rich indeed. My ancestors came from Nottinghamshire, England. They came to the U.S. and settled in Newark, Connecticut, in about 1638. I was told that one of my ancestors was a Native Indian, so even nowadays, I can feel the relation to the old generations through the bonds that I have as a representative of this culture. Sometimes, I am dreaming that I am an active horse rider who turns to be bold and free in seeking his natural cultural identity. In my free time, I am often thinking about the influence my native origins have on my identity.
Some other time, I imagine myself standing by the sea, trying to find the sense of life. I am dreaming of being a gregarious knight who is trying to reach the shores of the U.S. in the personal or familial journey. This can be an attempt to assess the cultural heritage of the ancestors of our family. I am deeply interested in how they lived, what they did for living, and how they reflected on social standards to remain the unity of people with the same culture.
My roots are deeply settled in England, from where my ancestors escaped because of the religious discrimination. They wished to practice Christianity the way they wanted, not being influenced by the Catholic dogmas. Although I do not remember any stories about the resettlement told by my parents or relatives in relation to that period, I know deeply in my heart that they did right to leave England and resettle in the U.S.
From the very beginning, they had no relatives in the U.S., and with time, they managed to establish friendly relations. Nowadays, I am not that sure whether we have any relations in England; however, I am deeply interested in research activities in this field.
Throughout all my life, I have been feeling the influence of family values on my activity in life and formation of my personal background and identity. The various stages of my life are marked with different values that I have got from my family. First of all, I have learned to openly communicate with other family members. For example, even when I do something wrong, I am taught to recognize my fault without any hesitation. I am thankful that my parents, who were religious people, cultivated this habit in me.
When I was small, we were going to the place of worship every Sunday, and we were treated as good Christians. Since my very childhood, I was taught to be helpful to those who are in need, especially to representatives of my own cultural group. I have been taught that united we stand, divided we fall, according to the old English saying. Furthermore, this feature was closely connected with respecting people and the law and order of our country of origin where we have been living for many years.
Since the very early age in my life, I have been very patriotic, praising the glory of the U.S., respecting its national symbols, and being politically and socially aware. When I went to school, I was taught to praise achievements of other people not paying attention to their defects in physical appearance. The most influential values in my high school years were to have good manners in communication with others. This meant to me not expressing anger, hate, and distrust to my friends and colleagues and not doing someone an injustice.
At the same time, I was trying to be honest with others, expressing love and affection whenever it was needed or I wanted it. To be honest, there were many people in my high school years that I loved and respected, especially my professors who had the good background of knowledge and experience. I tried to be active in studying, and, at the same time, I had a strong desire to have fun with friends at my leisure time.
Exploration of Society Identity/Intersectionality
According to my Identity Wheel Worksheet, my identity depends both on genetics and social environment. This is who I am and who I have become from the beginning to the present time of my cultural journey. Genetics influenced my eye and skin color, but the social rules added greatly to my image as a white man. I have been taught how to be a perfect citizen of the U.S., but in my teenage years, I failed to have the features of such an image. Sometimes, I was depressed in my teenage years, so I occasionally used marijuana.
Later, my medical records were marked with the drugs addiction; naturally, I did not want this information to be shared with strangers. I started to use drugs because my communication with my friends, family members and acquaintances had a lack of solidarity. I was dreaming about becoming a doctor and getting professional education; however, day by day, I was becoming numb and losing self-confidence.
I was using marijuana to release my anxiety and stress, and I failed to meet studying requirements in my schooling years. Nevertheless, I have managed to become who I am nowadays as from the very beginning of my life I have been taught to stand right every time I fall. My parents taught me this since they were greatly involved in my self-education.
Luckily, nowadays, I am a U.S. citizen, an English speaker who is proud to enjoy the cultural heritage of many people who shaped the United States of America. I am proud to enjoy being refilled with the energy from my past. I am a professional U.S. Navy Officer who shares the responsibility with all my colleagues. I am a Baptist, and the way I praise God with glory is the way I can share with my previous generations. I am a gender conforming female, and I feel that this is my preference to build fruitful communication with people of different ages and cultural identities.
The aspects of my identity, gender, class, and ethnicity had impacts on my experiences in life. For example, when I studied at school, I was not self-confident and I was not sure whether to share the personal information on my family history with others. Somehow, I thought that some people could call our family journey to the U.S. a colonizing experience or a kind of escape from our native lands to the land of opportunities, the United States.
Nowadays, I can understand that that fear inside of me was not relevant to the truth; however, those days I was thinking that way, and I could not escape my anxiety over my cultural heritage that England shared with the U.S. Another example is related to my attempts to succeed in medical career. I had all chances to pass the test, but my medical records of addiction to marihuana evoked in me the fear of not being good at this. I consulted my psychotherapist, and this problem was solved at last.
Finally, I tried to join the U.S. Navy, and I achieved success in military career. My social identity was good enough as I identified myself with the features that the majority of representatives of our class had. For example, I identify myself as heterosexual, white, English speaking, U.S. citizen, Baptist. In my everyday life, I am trying to reposition all features of character in order to be more tolerant of other people in my life.
Experiences and Attitudes Regarding Others
From the very beginning of my active life, my parents taught me to respect the diversity of people. I have been told that the United States is a special country where people are different, but they stand for human rights, appreciating how diverse they are in society. I had a positive experience communicating with people who were different than me when I started to attend a kindergarten. I started to observe that some children had different color of skin and eyes, and I believed that it was really amazing.
However, in my college years, I had conflicts with other students who started to take offence with me because they thought that I was racially discriminating against them. These were false observations as I have never discriminated against anyone in my life based on sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, beliefs, position in life, etc. I think that my positive and negative experiences occurred as the part of the cognition of the reality that I greatly perceived as the butterfly effect, when conscious and unconscious meet the reality with challenges.
Now, I can understand the diversity better as at first glance, it is just the gene code, but in fact, diversity is our uniqueness in some way. We are all different, but still we can communicate.
In my life, I had an experience of the close interaction with representatives of some diverse groups: heavy metal and rock fans, feminists, punks, etc. Mostly, our interaction and communication establishment happened in my college years. Personally, I loved rock-n-roll music and I even tried to play in one rock-n-roll band.
Feminist clubs were prominent in my college, and I helped their members to achieve successful cooperation with other student societies. Due to the close interaction with the diverse groups, my background has been enriched and changed. Nowadays, I can understand the prejudices that diverse groups meet in real life. It is difficult for them to establish the effective communication with the real world.
According to Jackson-Hardiman Identity Model, the story of my life is divided into 5 stages:
- Naive/no social consciousness.
- The stage of acceptance.
- The stage of resistance.
- The stage of redefinition.
- The stage of internalization.
Since my early years, I was a child of three siblings who grew with no father. I was raised by the grandmother and the grandfather. My brother and I had a terrifying experience of being molested by a 17-year-old male. I passed through the stage of resistance, but then I appeared to have a huge psychological trauma. Luckily, I identify myself with white Caucasian race. At the present time, I am not planning to change anything in my racial and cultural identity.
I was proud of my racial identity when reading historical facts about conquests by the representatives of my race. However, at the same time, I am ashamed with the years of slavery described in the research literature and in the fiction and non-fiction sources. The significance of race, however, is high in my present life. I always highlight it for I realize both advantages and disadvantages of belonging to the white race, and I do not have intention to share this personal information, as well as my fears and stresses, with strangers.
Oppression and Privilege
The results of the Critical Incident Review Worksheet are focused on the personal close interaction with colleagues, and diverse social groups: nerds, rich snobs, sport volleyball and basketball team leaders, military groups, etc. Based on these results, I understand very well how oppression and privilege are related to each other: while some people are oppressed, others enjoy privileges.
For example, at sports, the team members feel more proud when they are qualified for the next round of competition, or even when they have the privilege of being selected by the coach. One critical incident is related to the military career experience, when I felt obliged once to take care of a crying baby. One should also be careful with military jokes since they may hurt ones feelings.
The cycle of socialization means the stages of adaptation to social norms. When I was studying at high school and college, I felt being able to closely interact with the diverse groups. I have never selected friends from higher social positions and I have always tried to treat all people equally. This helped me to keep the balance in society and have respect for all regardless of their social status. I have never experienced any oppression against me from others, but I saw the perpetuation based on my cultural heritage: oppression of nerds, for example.
From my self discovery, I have learned that due to all experiences in my life, I have managed to hold the neutral position, trying not to solve conflict situations with violence. I am sure that oppression and lack of tolerance are not good means to help others to survive. I have discovered that I am an open-minded person, and this knowledge helps me in communication with diverse groups in my life. I can live and work with them very well, trying to reach the balance between experience and theoretical background of my knowledge.