One Week in The Social World Has Me Rethinking the Basis of My Identity

 

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By Sinead Hunt

This semester, in a dual attempt to a) become a much more well-rounded student and b) fulfill Barnard’s “Thinking About Social Difference” requirement, I enrolled in “Introduction to Sociology: The Social World.” Although it is still early in the semester, this class has already managed to challenge my most fundamental conception of my identity.

As an economics major, I’m used to grappling with difficult mathematical concepts, to stripping people of their humanity and viewing them as the mere sum of their economic transactions. If economics is cold and calculating, then sociology is the diametric opposite. In order to understand the forces that drive individual human behaviors, sociologists fully integrate themselves into people’s daily lives. They infiltrate churches and schools, hospitals and boardrooms, camouflaging themselves in order to produce writing that is both academic and intimate.

sociology.pngThis week, as part of our examination of the development of the self, we studied the work of George Herbert Mead, who is best known for his theory that a person’s identity is developed through their social interactions. At first I was rather resistant to Mead’s idea of identity formation through “social experiences and activities,” mostly because I have always tended to avoid social interactions. However, one thing I have learned thus far is that regardless of whether or not you subscribe to certain social norms, they nonetheless govern your life. Just because I was an anti-social preschooler doesn’t mean that I am the rare exception to Mead’s theory. Even as a four year-old, my fierce independence was fueled by the self-aggrandizing delusion that I was somehow above my peers, above my teachers, and most of all, above the patronizing institution of pre-K.

2f242f718d575fbc3adf7e286cb47095Mead believed that play is integral to children’s formation of identity, as it allows children to take on different roles, thereby adopting the perspective of others. I remember distinctly that one day I was playing with a friend of mine, Amanda, when she imperiously announced that she would play the role of a princess and I her servant. I               still remember bitterly choking down tears as

I began to feel an acrid mixture of rage and resentment. I also remember feeling unbridled glee when I turned the tables on Amanda by channeling my pent up feelings of injustice into revenge. Play allowed me to experience of wide range of perspectives, all from the comfort the comfort of my home.

Mead posits that at a certain point, children’s conception of “self” is transformed by what he refers to as the “generalized other.” This is to say, when you are a very young child, your sense of self is predicated upon how your family members and caretakers perceive you. As you move out into the world, however, and begin to interact with those outside of your family circle, your identity is increasing influenced by how you think others perceive you. Your sense of self is increasingly predicated upon what you believe society expects of you.

In class, our professor asked us one simple question: “Who do you think you are?” She instructed us to summarize our identity in one word and write it down in our notebooks. As those around me diligently obeyed her directive, I couldn’t help but pause. The first thing I thought to write was “smart.” For about as long as I can remember, I have identified as “smart,” predicating not only self-worth, but the very essence of my sense of self upon my intelligence. When I was very young, I had no conception of my own intelligence or abilities. I felt no ambition, no desire to achieve, no impulse to prove myself to anyone: I simply just existed. Mostly I was content on fulfilling my own preschool version of hedonistic desires, which mostly consisted of fruit snacks.

It wasn’t until second or third grade that I began to internalize what my teachers thought of me. My teachers expected me to achieve, so in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, I began to achieve at high levels. My mother once recounted to me a horrifying story about her coming home, only to discover that nine-year-old me was stressing about an upcoming state science exam. When she asked me why I felt so anxious, I responded that I had heard the teachers talking about me, and they had expressed a certainty that I would get a perfect score. Suddenly, I felt not only an obligation to perform well, but to perform perfectly. My intelligence, my achievement and my sense of self became inextricably and dangerously linked.

The moral of the story? Sociology will fuck you up.

 

New Yorker Cartoon linked here

Edited by Ruby Samuels

 

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Country House Butterscotch Brownies : The Best Blondies You’ll Ever Eat (Recipe from Martha Dixon’s Copper Kettle Cook Book)

 

By Olivia Nathan

 

Full disclosure: This recipe is from one of my mom’s favorite cookbooks and she taught me to make it a couple years ago. I have made it for my Dad’s birthday, for my Mom’s birthday, and for lonely Friday nights. Despite it being the easiest thing to make and baking them successfully all the previous times (AKA creating the most heavenly, gooey, coconuty treat ever), on Valentine’s Day this year I used baking soda instead of powder and also burnt them. My boyfriend ate one and said it was, “Still good”. He’s a theater major at Tisch and I told him the classes were really paying off…

 

1/3 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg, unbeaten

1/4 t salt

3/4 cup sifted enriched flour

1t baking powder

1t vanilla

1/2 cup coconut

1 6 oz. package semi sweet chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer pecans)

 

Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan. Cool. Add sugar, egg, salt, flour, baking powder, and vanilla. Blend the above ingredients; then add coconut, chocolate chips, and chopped nuts. Spread in greased 8 or 9” square pan. Bake 25 minutes in moderate oven, 350 degrees. These are quick and delicious.

 

Join PROJECT PENGYOU for Discussion and Dance!

Have you ever wanted to learn about folk dance? Have you ever wanted to try it? Now’s your chance!

Join PROJECT PENGYOU on Saturday, April 15th at 6pm in Lerner West Ramp Lounge for a discussion about folk dance– specifically American Contra Dance!

Anyone interested in trying contra can join them for a beginner’s lesson and group dance downtown in West Village! They’ll leave campus at 7pm and head down to 14th Street together.

Tickets for the lesson are $10 at the door.

Check out their FB page HERE! 

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Who is PROJECT PENGYOU?

Project Pengyou works to empower and mobilize a new generation of cross-cultural bridge-builders to serve, inspire and transform lives. They aim to lead the fight against systemic xenophobia and to build leadership and power through stories, dialogue, and action.

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COMING SOON: BTE’s One Act Play Festival!

Black Theatre Ensemble’s “The World Is Watching” One Act Festival explores the idea of society’s gaze on black bodies, and the search for identity within the identities that are given to you. Who are you when no one is watching?

The show is comprised of four student-written one acts.

The Haunting Inc. written by Onyekachi Iwu, Directed by Kadaja Brown

Jacqueline “Jack” Lopez is a ghost who has graduated top of her class from Haunting Incorporated. As she works to scare out the family of the house she was assigned, she learns to confront her past and learns there is more to life than scaring.

Colder Than Winter written by Donovan Redd, Directed by Chelsea Miller and Tyler Jones

Colder Than Winter is an exploration of how differences in Black identities affect how Black people differently meet, experience, interpret and cope with Black death.

A Play On Truth written and Directed by Megan Wicks

Aesop struggles with questions of persistence in the face of uncertain truth.

Truest Garden written and directed by Jennell Strong

It’s good to have girlfriends, until one of them has a girlfriend. Longtime friends get together after some time apart for a girls night. It soon becomes apparent that the sister love is not equally distributed.

Come out and support.

Click HERE to purchase tickets! 

CUID/BCID: $5

Non-CUID/BCID: $7

Kadaja Brown is a Senior at Barnard and an Editor for Barnard Bite 

Olivia’s Inspirational Workout Playlist

Struggling to find a good workout playlist? Can’t get…inspired? Look no further!

  1. Kill V Maim by Grimes
  2. I Got U by Duke Dumont
  3. Freedun by MIA, feat. ZAYN
  4. Warm Blood by Carly Rae Jepsen
  5. Moth to the Flame by Chairlift
  6. Fall Back 2U by Chromeo
  7. On the Regular by Shamir
  8. Cigarettes & Chocolate by Chet Faker
  9. Sleeper by Zero 7
  10. Walk This Way by MØ
  11. Put the Gun Down by ZZ Ward
  12. Renaissance Girls by Oh Land
  13. Klapp Klapp by Little Dragon
  14. What’s It Gonna Be? by Shura
  15. Clearest Blue by CHVRCHES
  16. Van Vogue by Azealia Banks
  17. This Is Not About Us by Banks
  18. Boys by Sky Ferreira
  19. Come Down by Anderson .Paak
  20. Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage
  21. Best To You by Blood Orange
  22. Heaven by Alpines
  23. Mar (Lo Que Siento) by Bomba Estéreo
  24. Dramophone by Caravan Palace
  25. I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler by YACHT

Olivia Nathan is a junior at Barnard and Social Media Specialist for Barnard Bite