I'd like to think I'm getting a little bit better. I still need to work on writing within the time constraints though. It took me a little less than an hour to write this and I'll only have 45 minutes for the GREs. Practice, practice, practice!!!
Prompt: It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we define ourselves.
Identity formation is a continuous process that happens throughout our lives. We all try to be our own person but we are also social beings. Cliques and peer membership do not define the totality of a person. Instead, it offers a quick glimpse into the person's life, their interests and their passions.
Our membership in peer groups gives us a boost of confidence – yes, I do belong. But how does one gain membership into these peer groups? We find something in common with the other members whether it be a shared interest, a common goal, or a shared experience. Whatever that common bond is, it is something that is strong enough that sometimes it helps to define who we are. As the saying goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are”. For example, I love Christian Louboutin shoes and I am a member of a forum that discusses Christian Louboutin shoes. The forum members and I share our love for Christian Louboutin and his shoes. To them, I will always be crazy shoe-addict girl. But that is just one aspect of my life. The only people who define me by that standard are the other members of the forum. They might define me by my love for shoes and yet other people may define me by some other means – my love fore food, my love for books, my personality.
Peer membership does have its significance in helping shape our identities. The most prominent phase of life when peer membership suddenly becomes of utmost importance (and is most observable) is during our adolescent years. When you think back to your high school days, you can probably distinguish each student by the crowd he/she hangs our with. In the movie Clueless, when Cher gives Tai the tour of the campus, she points out different cliques – the Persian mob, the stoners, the jocks, etc. Each of these groups have criteria for membership, which although not publicly articulated, is certainly implied. For example, one can't be a member of the “jock” group if they didn't play a sport. The members of each group have something in common and they are more or less known throughout the school by their respective cliques. Yet, it is possible to have friends outside of these cliques. In school, we will always be known by the cliques we hang with. Outside of school, we can be identified in some other way. If a jock volunteers at the homeless shelter on weekends, he will be known to those people not as a “jock” but as a benevolent volunteer.
Our identification in social groups does not completely define us. In the grand scheme of things, membership in a peer group is only a small aspect of who we are. The only people who can truly define us outside of our peer group is ourselves.