Prompt: Belonging to a group both strengthens and weakens our sense of self.
The shaping of our identity is aided by various influences in our lives, one of them being the groups to which we belong. There are different types of groups which we may find ourselves associated with, such as social, religious and cultural groups. Belonging to any one of these groups may be either by choice or a sense of obligation. For instance, the decision to belong to a certain social group is entirely dependent on our own free will, whereas being a part of a cultural group is not necessarily something we have control over, as people are generally born into a specific culture which may be difficult to depart from.
People typically choose to involve themselves in a group in order to feel accepted and to attain a sense of security. The feeling of acceptance provides our self-esteem with a huge boost, which generally results in a more confident and self-assured attitude. Furthermore, if our sense of self so happens to coincide with the group’s ideals, we will find it easier to fit in with the group as it encourages us to be more open about our sense of self.
On the other hand, there are cases where people may attempt to belong to a group whose ideals differ from their own. In situations like these, an individual will experience conflict between their true identity and the identity they have created in their attempt to meet the expectations of the group. Some people ultimately stop mingling with the group after coming to terms with the fact that they do not belong there, whereas there are those who continue succumbing to peer pressure, going against their own personal values, and trying to please everyone within the group, just to feel like they are a part of something. This, however, only gives a false sense of belonging. We can lose our individuality if we thrive too much on being a part of the group, to the point where eventually the façade is assumed as our main identity....
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