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Life-Span Map

By relkhorazaty Dec 14, 2012 1927 Words
Fall
12
Fall
12
PSYCH 304 – Dr. Kenneth Moore
PSYCH 304 – Dr. Kenneth Moore
My life through Erikson’s eyes
Riham El Khorazaty
ID: 900092686
My life through Erikson’s eyes
Riham El Khorazaty
ID: 900092686
08
Fall
08
Fall

“The most glamorous of all wars, is the war between oneself and himself.” How much sense does this quote make? What if it comes from an old warrior who has taken chief leadership roles in four major military battles? This is a quote of my grandfather, General Ahmed El Kouny, a major capstone in my life development. Although a military man with an “armed mentality” as he always labeled himself, he could through basic commonsense come to Erikson’s psychosocial analysis of personal development; a human being is in constant war against oneself. The first battle I faced was the day I was born, a battle of which the borders of my circle of trust was settled. Throughout my years, biological, social and psychological turning points in my life redefined my trust circle along-with many other circles of influence on my personality and identity. May his soul rest in peace, he constructed the first stage of my life-span development; the stage of initial identity! Born between my grandfather’s arms to a father I never met, made me grow the stage of trust versus mistrust so quick. Since then, and up until today, the General as the head of my family, and my whole mother’s family is my circle of trust, versus a circle that I seldom meet, and seldom care about, which is my father’s. I grew up this trust-mistrust equilibrium since my early infancy, and shaped my identity accordingly; my birth being a landmark. I grew to see people as members of the trust circle, or with label of mistrust. Ironically enough, I visited this stage again in my 20th year, as I got engaged to a member of my trusted family circle, which turned later to an utter failure. It was a point in which I understood quiet well, that trust and trustworthiness are not matters of birth, but a life-long struggle. Being worth the trust and around people with the same trait, since then became a major concern of myself. My mother’s only child, and the youngest of five other male cousins, I was both challenged to prove that I am no less than my elder male cousins, and anxious of the loneliness I might encounter if I did not keep up with my cousins expectations. This challenge I took so serious, and could manage quiet well, since then, and upon all stages of my development, to be on the same social, mental, and even physical level with my male cousins. I grew up as a synchronized swimmer, which brought me since my freshmen year in AUC to the swimming team. I even wrestled, boxed, and played other masculine games with my cousins, which explains a lot about my physical appearance and fitness. Up until this date, the majority of my friends are men. For so long, I never asked why, but it was just the case. Erikson’s theory made me understand that it is a matter of a stage I encountered in my life where industry for me meant being accompanied by my surrounding males, and otherwise meant inferiority. Another major turning point in my life-span development was menstruation. Puberty is any woman’s biological turning point. It is the moment when a girl turns into a woman, with universe changing its meanings and outlooks, and gender attraction becomes both a hope and a threat. However, for me it was not only biological. Being part of the conservative El Kouny family, I became no longer allowed to live in the same house with my non-biological brothers, my cousins. The menstruation moment was not to me this happy moment when I look forward for knowing the other, but merely meant separation from my family, simply meaning that “my people,” “my cousins,” now should be labeled as “others”. I relate this stage to Erikson’s stage of identity versus identity confusion; where the question of “who am I” within the social isle became a pressing one. It was the first time I encounter the difference between members of the same society. At the time, the society to me was basically the family, where my cousins were members of my horizontal strata, and the family elders on the vertical. Later, I always related to this stage, or this challenge of my life, the moment of separation from my family, to remind myself that the society is much more complicated, and that the definition of “oneself” within the society is not merely dependant on how I see myself, but also depends on others expectations and aspirations from me. I came to understand that self “identity” is an output of a historical process, not a personal decision.

The major social turning point in my life was entering AUC. Being a graduate of a small girls-only school, I witnessed in AUC a typical cultural shock. Being part of this diversified community was both impressive and repulsive. In the beginning I was on the negative pole, feeling that my identity is at stake and my values completely threatened. I always recall my grandfather’s visit to my “First Year Experience” orientation, and how shameful I felt as he saw pony-tails, skinnies, and other traits that are very different of the “armed mentality” that nurtured me. However, I recalled my cousins’ challenge of industry versus inferiority, and decided that I will balance keeping my principals but also being part of this community. Thanks to many non-biological sisters and mothers on-campus, I became a well-known figure in AUC. I was elected in 2009 to represent my major in the Student Senate. Since then, I have always been within the kitchen of student policy-making. The pride I hold for exceeding this challenge is very obvious from my writing tone, but the real reason of my pride is that I did this while still keeping the “myself” I always knew. Minor changes and flexibility were definite, but the core of my principles, values, and aspirations were kept. This was the stage where I balanced between getting together with others and not losing myself in another person or group. In Erikson’s words, it was the stage of Intimacy versus Isolation.

Not every change in human life had a dramatic turning point. In drama, it must be an incidence that is unforgettable and unexpected that makes a person turns himself from one view of the world to a complete other one. Probably most of the incidents stated in this paper are dramatic, but defining who I am, I find many stages in my life where I decided upon my own will to change without any biological or social pressures. My life had psychological turning points that happened on their own. They were not of course out of the bloom, but were not also a direct result of present event or interaction, but a complex resolution of past history with a present challenge and a speculated future. Most of these points I do not remember, but can only recall they must have happened one day, because else I would never be the person I am today. What, for example, made me so eager to major in psychology? What made me so interested in student politics? What made me attracted to my boyfriend who is very different than myself, and was brought up in a completely different environment? All these questions can of course be answered through psycho-social analysis through professional life-span development study. However, thinking it out of the tip of my mind, I can only say that they were all decisions I made out of a mindset and an identity I accumulated throughout my past years of self development.

One of the conscious self-determined turning points in my life was when I sat with myself after my 21st birthday celebration. It was no coincidence, I expect, that several days before I achieve the age of adulthood (21), my grandfather passes away, and a revolution takes place in my country, all without me being included in decision-making, or even expecting. Thinking of this, I decided I must be more proactive. I remember writing this on my birthday card: “construct your life, and do not wait for it to happen”. It was a message I felt my grandfather, if was still alive, would write to me on my birthday card, as he always used to do. I took several decisions in my life in order to be in control, some of which are: focus on my studies and graduate, give my boyfriend extra attention, and reinstate my family into the center of my life. For me, my boyfriend, my school, and my family were the natural circles of my self-universe. Those decisions were no more than re-instating myself into the circles I naturally belonged to. If this day, and those decisions are to be related to Erikson’s theory of development, I believe they will be relevant to all developmental stages and periods, for they are no more than a revision on my developmental periods and stages. I revised my trust- mistrust circles, and so decided to be with people I trust. I also decided to be trustworthy to them, and to function with appropriate industry. Finally, it was all the outcomes of my personal identity and of the identity I gained through intimate relations with my family, boyfriend, and colleagues; where myself was reshaped and adjusted throughout my relationship with them. This was not the final line in my life-span development so far, but was definitely the line of which I became conscious of who I am and who I should be. A famous saying states that “It is really flattering to know when I was born, but the real question to think about would be why I was”. The life-span analysis of one’s self-development however proves that when, how, and where I was born are things that determine why I was born. Answering those questions will lead to being oneself, thus achieving the reason a person was meant to be in this universe, and in this specific place within the universe, the nation, the city, and the family. I am keeping this paper for reference in several years. Probably then, many questions that I asked might be answerable, and many answers might be irrelevant.

The closing sentence of last paragraph makes me sure that I am not yet determined in terms of identity, for I am obviously not sure if I would be the same person in a couple of years. This is the stage I believe I might be in. I have also passed through intimacy versus isolation stage in my university life, and probably might revisit after graduation. Thus, I consider myself in a point between identity versus confusion stage and intimacy versus isolation stage. Being 22, my psychological location on the development stages strata is normal; so I should wait and see where life is taking me. However, I will always keep an eye on The General’s advice “construct your life, and do not wait for it to happen.” Maintaining this balance is the challenge I am facing today, the challenge of intimacy with life and losing one-self and one’s-identity to its fate, or isolating myself from life constraints and forces to lead my way independently.

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