The people around you influence who you become

How does a community affect an individual?

A community affects an individual in many different ways and especially one of which by contributing to an individual’s identity. It can instill worldly values, biases, viewpoints, etc. upon them. Some people disagree with this, they believe that people individualize themselves and do not conform with what their society upholds. But I don’t.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading The Scarlet Letter with my English class and also found a lot of material that answered this question. In this novel, as we all very well know, Hester is ostracized from the community in which she resides in because she has committed adultery and is with child, the mysterious father being the man with whom she committed the affair.  Because she lives in a Puritan society that is very attached to rules and traditions, they take her action of adultery very seriously as it goes against their morals. Now despite this isolation from her town, she continues to live in the community even though she could have easily taken off and moved away because she wants to make up for her sins.

“In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it… She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt.”

This quote above shows how Hester is still somewhat affected by the isolation from her community and how she longs to part of something bigger instead of just being by herself and Pearl.

However as time wears on, Hester continues to live her life and does charitable works, ignoring the ridicules of those around her. She eventually is able to walk around with a sense of pride (of a sort) and has developed this independence because she has gotten used to people singling her out and being isolated from the community. We can see that she still has this strength and goodness to her that the community was not successful in wrenching from her, which shows how even though she has been wronged by everyone around her, she didn’t let all their hatred get to her or let the trials and tribulations she went through change her.

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©2011 by S2sts [CC BY 3.0]

 

Here’s a little anecdote that I think is fitting to this subject: Upon entering high school, my mom told me to pick good people to be friends with, people that have good morals but are still fun to hang out with, people who accept you for who you are and don’t force you to do the things that you are not comfortable with or do not want to do, people who can inspire you to do good things, to be a good person. People who have kind and true hearts.

The freshman me thought this statement was silly and I always wondered why she told me this but now I know why. It’s because who you choose to surround yourself with end up affecting who you are as a person, whether or not you like to admit it. I thought she was wrong. I thought I would be strong enough to resist peer pressure but I’m really not, as previous mistakes in my past have taught me. Now, I tell my freshman sister the exact same thing because I don’t want her to fall in with the same crowd because I know, through experience, it can be detrimental to her character.

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Photo by Caitlin Pham.

This quote from the Five Short Novels of Stendahl gives further evidence that a community affects an individual in by instilling different values upon them because it states that one cannot gain character from being alone or in solitude. When you are in solidity, you can still learn things like how to sew, knit, draw, math, science, literature, history, and so on and so forth but you don’t build character. It shows that people need interaction with other human beings to develop a personality because if you don’t ever talk to anyone else or isolate yourself from a community. This goes to show that the people you associate with help you to build character because you are communicating with them and you are learning new opinions, views, and values that you might also support or even oppose. You know what they say: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

However, a community can also affect an individual negatively as shown in this quote from by English textbook The Language of Composition:

“The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them.” (289)

Due to biases against the African-American race that the community held, the Africans began building up feelings of frustratation (as they should) because they are so unfairly and unrightly treated. They have done nothing wrong and yet they are treated as the inferior race, as though they are worse than the gum of someone’s shoe. This, of course, is bound to result in some feelings of antipathy since no one gets good feelings from being treated like they are lower than low. The mean actions and words that the people within the community are directing at the African-Americans could even lead to horrible, sad things like suicides because it might cause them to believe that they are actually the lowest of the low. I mean if you tell someone something x enough times, they might just start to believe.

That being said, I believe that a community is a major contributing factor to the identities of the people residing within it. I think that where you live and the people that you choose to surround yourself with will end up, eventually, in some way, shape, or form, influencing you, whether it be in a significant or minor manner.

-Caitlin

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Always be kinder than you feel.

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For the past 30 days, I along with 3 of my friends have been working on an innovation project that we named “Project Kind”. The main objective was to promote acts of kindness and to help others remember that it’s cool to be nice, not lame. We’ve noticed that sometimes, people think being nice is a sign of weakness or you’re not a “cool kid” if you’re too nice. Which is completely not the case, so we made it our goal to show people that being kind is completely worth it. We were initially inspired by P1124, an organization that encourages selfless acts of kindess, and we too advocate this notion so we began brainstorming ideas to help us enter our idea into the world and global conversation.

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Mother’s Day

The Belle Jar

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This post is for my mother. This is in recognition of the countless hours of unpaid labour she did and continues to do for my sisters and I. This post is an acknowledgement of the fact that I have taken her for granted; she’s given her time and energy to me so freely and generously that it wasn’t until I had my own child that I understood how much this must have personally cost her. She is someone whose love and support I can rely on even when she disagrees with the choices I make.

This post is for all the people who work in childcare and are underpaid because what they do is undervalued by our society. This is for the folks – mostly women – who are often offered minimum wage or less to nurture, engage, educate and love a child.

This post is for all the people who are helping me…

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Thoughts of an amateur blogger.

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I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this but this blog was actually created for an English class that I am currently taking. When you think about English, you think about essays, readings, and more essays, but this year, I think it’s safe to say that I have not written any essays. Instead, we have been geared more towards writing blog posts, which I personally love, because it’s a little bit more informal and you are allowed to have a little fun with it.

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Over That Cool Phase

I can relate to this post so much. I think that since movies and tv shows often portray a lot of clique-iness, we are led to believe that we need to belong in a friend group to feel secure and happy. I, for one, used to think that I would be branded a loner if I didn’t have a specific group of friends that accepted me. However, I’ve learned that its extremely difficult to find a group of true friends who you are certain will stick with you through all the bad and the good as well. Even though it would definitely be nice to be a part of a group of friends that you can do anything and everything with, I know now that its perfectly okay to not have a group of friends and you just have to learn to be content with what you do have.

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I used to long for a group of friends that all hung out with each other and I could always run to whenever I was feeling crummy or nap with whenever I felt like it. It just seemed, I don’t know, pretty cool to feel secure in a group of friends where you know for certain that you’re welcome. But when I am being invited to be with acquaintances, I feel like a huge outsider because my interests don’t align with theirs… Or anything really. My sense of humor, what I find to be news, my music, shows, etc. With that all different there wasn’t really much I could talk about with them.

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You don’t have to be mean to be cool.

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I’m sure you’ve all seen the movies where the most popular girls in school are also, coincidentally, always the meanest. It’s almost as though the media wants to attribute being popular to being mean, maybe because its more exciting when an ice queen rules the school rather than your typical nice girl, who knows. However, it’s instilling this idea, this mentality, that in order to be well-known, a person must show at least some degree of coldness.

Always be kinder than you feel.

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Life is for living, not just existing.

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Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m living my life, just surviving it and I feel like I’m wasting my youth away. 5/7 days in my week are me just focusing on school and trying to finish all of my homework and study for my tests. Oh, but it doesn’t end there because nearly half of my weekend is taken up by school as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning and the reading about new things but there are days when I want to sit outside and relax in the sun and not think about things like grades and school anymore.

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Don’t let people walk all over you.

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I’ve always had this problem with being a pushover and letting people walk all over me. Like someone could ask me to do their homework for a week and I would probably do it just because I didn’t want to upset them. Honestly, I just can’t bring myself to say no to someone and even if I did say no to someone, I would immediately feel guilty and change my reply to yes within the next minute. It’s probably because I don’t like it when I’m not liked by someone; it just seriously annoys me so much whenever I find out that someone dislikes me and I don’t even know why. Which is totally irrational because not everyone in the world is going to like me and I know that but I still maintain this kind of mindset.

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“So many books, so little time.”

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I was in the fourth grade when I fell in love with reading. It all started when my cousin told me to read the Harry Potter series, which is exactly what I did, eventually. At first, I was skeptical about reading them because if you’ve seen these books, you would know that they are huuuge. This made me hesitant because I thought there was no way I could ever finish that book, but I later decided to just get over my fears and read the books. And let me tell you, that was the best decision I have ever made in my prepubescent years. I mean what could be better than a few teenage wizards fighting against a scary guy with no nose in a cool world where magic actually existed. Its exciting, its fun, its a break from reality. From then on out, I was always the girl with her nose in a book. I read everything from fantasies to mysteries to horrors to romance. There was nothing I didn’t like. Well actually scratch that, I disliked most nonfiction novels because I just thought they were complete snoozers.

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