English 9: Period 6
February 15, 2012
The Impact of External and Internal Forces on One’s Identity What is identity? If you look in the dictionary, it will tell you that identity is what identifies someone or something. But there is more to the meaning behind identity than what is said in the dictionary. Identity is complex and changes over time in response to two main factors. One factor that can mold one’s identity are the forces inside of you, internal forces. An example of an internal force is love. Our love and affection for someone or something can lead us to do things differently than a person who doesn’t have the same degree of love towards that person or object. The second main factor that can affect identity are external factors. External forces refer to the forces that are in our environment. An example of an external force that can affect one’s identity is a person. If a person matters to you a lot and you are trying to prevent something bad from happening to him or her, wouldn’t you stop at nothing to prevent it from happening? This urge to prevent something bad from happening to the person you care about would probably have an impression on your actions and overall identity. Bottom line, identity changes in response to both internal and external forces, meaning that one force does not outweigh the other. Both internal and external forces work together to form a person’s identity as they mature; therefore, identity is shaped by both external and internal forces. Research proves that identity can be affected by external forces. In C. Seefeldt’s article Factors Affecting Social Development, he confirms that identity is shaped by external forces, more specifically, where we are raised, family, and school affect our development. In the article, the Seefeldt states that “Those exposed to domestic abuse, gang violence…do not feel safe or secure. Their insecurity will interfere with their total development…” meaning that children are more likely to feel less secure and unsafe if they grow up in or around unsafe communities and bad influences (Seefeldt). Imagine yourself as a little kid. Wouldn’t it be scary to grow up around drug addicts, thugs, and gangs? Wouldn’t you be scared of the constant danger lurking around every corner? Just wearing the wrong colors can end your life. Or maybe even things that you can’t control like your ethnicity can end you up in a coffin. Wouldn’t you be scared just to go outside? Wouldn’t these things make you feel unsafe and less secure? Overall, the writer telling us that growing up as a child in an unsafe community can mess with their total development shows that identity can be formed by external forces. But not only does the writer show us that growing up around negative forces shape ones identity, he also tells us that parents play a role in a child’s overall development. As the article goes on, the writer tells us that “parents who are social themselves serve as models for their children. Children may be able to use the image of their parents interacting with others in their own attempts to make friends with other children” showing that parents’ interactions with their own peers, can reflect on their child’s social skills too. Have you ever heard the saying “like father, like son” or “like mother like daughter”? Has anyone ever told you this? People usually say this because they see something in the child that resembles the parent. This usually happens because the children follow patterns of behavior from their parents. Like maybe a child can copy how his parent talks. The child can even copy simple things like how his parent walks. But did you know the way a parent socializes can reflect on the child’s social development? The article tells us that children can use the image of their parents socializing in their own attempts in making friends and being social themselves, and that parents who are more secure and competent offer children a model of...