“My sense of who I am, to the degree that I can locate its coordinates, seems to derive from a quality of resistance, a refusal to back down. If it’s threatened, I’ll assert it. My “identity” has quickened in those very places where it has been most under siege.” (Faludi 50)
It is hard to pinpoint our own identity in a concrete way. Most of the time the labels we use to describe ourselves do not fully capture our identity. Identity is not something that we can sort into rigid categories. Yet if there is a sense that these categories we use to label ourselves are questioned by someone else, we become more steadfast in our sense of our identity, almost as if to prove to the provocateur, and to ourselves that we know more about ourselves than they do.
Nice summary. One suggestion: to make clear that you’re responding to another person’s idea, incorporate a signal phrase into your summary—for instance, “as Susan Faludi suggests.”
“A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. ‘You’re both the narrator and the main character of your story,’ Adler says. ‘That can sometimes be a revelation – “Oh, I’m not just living out this story, I am actually in charge of this story.”‘” – “Story of my Life: How Narrative Creates Personality”, Julie Beck
Your life story and the way you view your past is up to you, although many people don’t realize this. Outside factors influence the way that you think about your past, therefore your memory is changeable and malleable. You have the power to edit the way you think about and narrate your own past, and realizing this gives you more control over your past life experiences. Changing the way you remember certain events can help you adjust the way you think about yourself in the present.
Nice summary. My only suggestion is to use a signal phrase to indicate that you’re citing a source. As it happens, you’ve chosen a slightly tricky passage to summarize, in that you’re citing Julie Beck citing Jonathan Adler. So your summary should indicate this with a phrase like “Atlantic writer Julie Beck cites psychology professor Jonathan Adler, who argues that.” You could also go with a simpler phrase, such as “psychology professor Jonathan Adler argues that,” and then add a parenthetical reference at the end to make clear that you read about Adler’s idea in Beck’s article: (qtd. in Beck).
“Once certain stories get embedded into the culture, they become master narratives–blueprints for people to follow when structuring their own stories, for better or worse. Once such blueprint is your stand ‘go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have kids.’ (Beck 8)”
Cultural and social norms have led many people to believe there is a specific way of living. Julie Beck aims at stressing there is no single path for the destiny of one’s life. She says “a life story is written in chalk, not ink”, implying it is subject to change. The environment and development of a person have an impact on how one views their life story as going, which Beck argues is perfectly normal.
“If someone is afraid of how people might react to a story, and they keep it to themselves, they’ll likely miss out on the enrichment that comes with a back-and-forth conversation. A listener ‘may give you other things to think about, or may acknowledge that this thing you thought was really bad is actually not a big deal, so you get this richer and more elaborated memory,’ Pasupathi says.”
In discussing the crucial role that storytelling plays in one’s identity formation, Julie Beck uses the research of psychologist Monisha Pasupathi to emphasize the importance of sharing one’s life narrative, due to “the enrichment” and the development of a “richer and more elaborated memory” that accompanies this act. With conversation and storytelling, Beck asserts, comes more of an ability to grow and develop a sense of identity through narrative. (Julie Beck 9)
“The way people recount experiences to others seems to shape the way they end up remembering those events” (Julie Beck).
Julie Beck introduces the idea that when we retell our experiences in the format of storytelling, this is often the version of the event that we remember. She emphasizes that some of the details or emotions associated with these experiences may be forgotten. The audience’s reaction may have an impact on how the event is remembered and it may introduce new meaning to the experience.
Passage: “Life is incredibly complex, there are lots of things going on in our environment and in our lives at all times, and in order to hold onto our experience, we need to make meaning out of it” (Beck, Story of My life: How narrative creates personality)
Summary: Julie Beck, a writer for The Atlantic, wrote a short essay discussing how people tell their life story in order to find their identity. One of the key aspects to her discussion is the idea that our lives are very complex, and in order to explain all we have been through we need a lot of detail. Despite the popular idea that you can simply use facts to describe how you got to where you are in life. The details are the part that make each person’s life story exceptional.
“Complicating the lack of alternatives is the lack of information about what, exactly, we’re consuming. There are no calorie information charts on fast-food packaging, the way there are on grocery labels. Advertisements don’t carry warning labels the way tobacco ads do. Prepared foods aren’t covered under Food and Drug Administration labeling laws.” (Zinczenko, 140).
“The process of constructing a life story may be incremental and uneven, subject to fits and starts, as the emerging adult tries out different kinds of characters, plots, and stories until he or she settles on the kinds of narrative forms and contents that seem to work or fit.” (McAdams 190)
In this passage, Dan McAdams is suggesting that the search for identity and crafting your story isn’t a task that can be completed over night. It takes multiple attempts with little changes to details in order to find something that will satisfy what you imagine your story to be. With time and practice however, you can discover a form that fits you best.
Passage: “Similarly, the way someone imagines his future seems to affect the way he sees his past, at the same time as his past informs what he expects for the future.” (Julie Beck, Story of My life: How narrative creates personality).
Summary: In her essay, Julie Beck claims that one’s view of his future affects how he remembers the past. Consequently, these memories become the foregrounds of his visualization of the future. Also, a person’s present circumstances influence the way he envisions the future. Given this information, as present circumstances change, so too will his future outlook, inevitably altering his perception of the past.
In questioning the rising childhood obesity rate, David Zinczenko argues that children are not exposed or informed about the lack of nutrition in the food served in the fast-food industry. In looking at the statistics of rising childhood diabetes rates, Zinczenko suggests that this rising rate directly correlates to the lack of information provided by the fast-food industry. Zinczenko calls for more FDA intervention in informing people about the dangers of fast food.
“Employing Erikson’s understanding of the term, then, identity is an integrative configuration of self-in-the-adult world. This configuration integrates in two ways. First, in a synchronic sense, identity integrates the wide range of different, and likely conflicting, roles and relationships that characterize a given life in the here-and-now. “When I am with my father, I feel sullen and depressed; but when I talk with my friends, I feel a great surge of optimism and love for humankind.” Identity needs to integrate these two things so that although they appear very different, they can be viewed as integral parts of the same self-configuration.” (Dan P McAdams, “Identity and the Life Story”)
McAdams analyzes identity through the lense of Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development, which theorizes that in our teenage years, we actively search for our role in society by exploring interactions with different people and institutions. McAdams uses this to argue that one’s identity is the story of the natural linear progression of one’s life because “identity” encapsulates the whole and absolute self, and thus must include various interactions with many different people and objects.
McAdams uses the word “integrate” at least 4 times in the passage you cite. Why does he describe identity as an “integrative narrative of self”? According to McAdams, what is it that the life story “integrates”? How does this idea of integration relate to McAdams’s conception of identity as life story?
“Erving Goffman distinguishes, in his work on stigma, between three forms of identity: personal identity, social identity, and ego identity or felt identity.” – Steph Lawler, “Introduction, identity as a question,” page 6.
In her book “Identity,” Steph Lawler quotes Erving Goffman’s theory of identity, where he maintains that identity is an amalgamation of three separate parts: personal identity, social identity, and ego/felt identity. According to Steph Lawler, personal identity refers to the unique characteristics of the person; social identity refers to the ‘categories’ that we belong to and are imposed on by society; ego identity refers to our subjective sense of who we think we are.
Some of your phrasing too closely follows Lawler’s (“unique characteristics of the person” and “refers to our subjective sense of who we … are”). If you include the summary in your essay, you should change your wording or at least put Lawler’s words in quotation marks.
“Organizing the past into a narrative isn’t just a way to understand the self, but also an attempt to predict the future” (Julia Beck).
In other words, Julia Beck is explaining to her readers that the way in which we organize our lives into a plot can ultimately dictate our futures. By altering what actually happens in our life and placing it into a “story” can change some of our common behaviors in order to fit this narrative mold. Organizing our lives into stories is a natural human tendency which allows us to be able to become the self that we describe in these “stories.”
“Someone might have an overarching narrative for her whole life, and different narratives for different realms of her life- career, romance, family, faith. She might have different narratives within each realm that intersect, diverge, or contradict each other, all of them filled with the micro-stories of specific events.” (Julie Beck).
In this quote, Julie Beck is describing the source of identity: your story. Who you are as a person comes about from all your experiences in life. From the grand themes to brief defining moments, Beck captures the idea that your story becomes the medium through which you develop and portray your identity. Rather than supporting generalizations of identity, Beck supports that an individual’s identity should be put into context of their whole story.
“In other words: identity what you choose, or what you can’t escape” (Faludi 49)?
Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom highlights how much control over our identity we have. She states she grew up during “the newly hatched women’s movement” (Faludi 49). Although Faludi makes this statement, the majority of the passage describes her struggle with her personal identity that was often suppressed by her father, while reflecting on the paradox that her identity, in fact, “quickened in those very places where it [had] been most under siege” (Faludi 50).
“Life Stories develop over time, and although identity itself does not become a salient psychosocial issue until the adolescent years, the origins of life-story making and telling can be traced back to early childhood, and traced forward to the last years in the human life course.”
As McAdams suggests Identity is a life story. During life we are constantly meeting new people, going new places, and experiencing different things. So, as we do this our identities are constantly changing as we change over time. From the time we are kids too old adults all of the life experiences that we are having or have had shape the way we identify ourselves.
Passage: “Life is incredibly complex, there are lots of things going on in our environment and in our lives at all times, and in order to hold onto our experience, we need to make meaning out of it. The way we do that is by structuring our life into stories.” – Jonathan Adler (pg 4-5)
Response: (From the article “Life’s Stories” by Julie Beck
Throughout our lives, we encounter a variety of people and experiences. Our lives are a collection of thousands of stories that all make up our identity. As Adler argues, the way we are able to make sense of the confusing experiences in the world around us is to tell stories, both in our own minds and to others. Our attitudes and values are present in our stories, which guide us to remember, share, and derive meaning from the world around us.
A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. “You’re both the narrator and the main character of your story,” Adler says. “That can sometimes be a revelation.”- Julia Beck
The Atlantic author, Julia Beck, explains to her audience that one’s life is determined by perspective and that perspective is everchanging. She cites psychologist, Jonathan Adler, to support her sentiment that as you encounter the daily events of life that are formative to your every day being it creates the way you live through them, recount these memories, and how you can learn from them to make them a part of who you are.
A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. “You’re both the narrator and the main character of your story,” Adler says. “That can sometimes be a revelation—‘Oh, I’m not just living out this story, I am actually in charge of this story.’”- Julia Beck “Story of My Life: How Narrative Creates Personality- The Atlantic
“People contain multitudes, and by multitudes, I mean libraries. Someone might have an overarching narrative for her whole life, and different narratives for different realms of her life–career, romance, family, faith. She might have narratives within each realm that intersect, diverge, or contradict each other, all of them filled with the micro-stories of specific events. And to truly make a life story, she’ll need to do what researchers call “autobiographical reasoning” about the events– “identifying lessons learned or insights gained in life experiences, marking development or growth through sequences of scenes, and showing how specific life episodes illustrate enduring truths about the self,” McAdams and Manczak write” (Beck).
This quote illustrates how every person’s experiences are multi-faceted, and how, while a person may have a wholesome narrative, that singular story is made up of many different parts from all aspects of her life. “Autobiographical reasoning”, a term coined by McAdams and Manczak, refers to a person’s capacity to grow or develop, as well as how a specific life event can reveal truths about who a person really is.
“If this approach were a blueprint for an Ikea desk instead of a life, almost everyone trying to follow it would end up with something wobbly and misshapen, with a few leftover bolts you find under the couch, boding ill for the structural integrity of the thing you built.” (Julie Beck)
Julie Beck argues that if people based their lives by cultural narratives they would end up with a disappointing and unstable result. Beck observes that life is too complex to fit it perfectly to a standard narrative, and those who believe in this narrative end up with “unrealistic expectations of happiness”.
“Taking advantage of this initial conversational scaffolding provided by adults, the young child soon begins to take more initiative in sharing personal events” (McAdams 190).
McAdams emphasizes his preceding thought of parental influence though his explanation of the “scaffolding” that we receive from our kin. In their youth, a person’s surrounding atmosphere is like the crust of bread, creating the outer shell of guidance that cultures us, yet protects our childish innocence from the wickedness of the outside world. It is through this nurturing that we establish the foundation necessary to enter the real world on our lonesome.
“McAdams conceives of this development as the layering of three aspects of the self. Pretty much from birth, people are “actors.” They have personality traits, they interact with the world, they have roles to play—daughter, sister, the neighbor’s new baby that cries all night and keeps you up.” (Beck).
In this passage from Chelsea Beck’s article titled Life Stories, she provides a detailed description of the individual life story, by comparing its subjects to actors. Through this comparison Beck depicts a life story as “the layering of three aspects of self” (Beck). Finally, she lists examples of roles humans often fall into during their lives, which further expands upon her previous comparison.
Passage: “But who is the person you “were meant to be”? Is who you are what you make of yourself, the self you fashion into being, or is it determined by your inheritance and all its fateful forces, genetic, familial, ethnic, religious, cultural, historical? In other words: is identity what you choose, or what you can’t escape” (Faludi 49)?
Response: As Susan Faludi suggests, is the formation of your identity an active choice or a passive response to your experiences? Do you submissively fall into your destiny, becoming who “you were meant to be” or do you actively seek your identity? Is identity simply a result of matters beyond your control, such as “genetic, familial, ethnic, religious, cultural, [and] historical” information that you did not choose? Is your identity a result of the choices that you make or the circumstances into which you were born?
“The redemption story is American optimism—things will get better!—and American exceptionalism—I can make things better!—and it’s in the water, in the air, and in our heads. This is actually a good thing a lot of the time. Studies have shown that finding a positive meaning in negative events is linked to a more complex sense of self and greater life satisfaction” (Julie Beck, ‘Story of my Life’)
The “redemptive” archetype pervades nearly every aspect of our culture; the very basis of America’s pioneering spirit lies in our unshakeable belief that success will eventually emerge from our struggles. Not withstanding the opinions of many, that this kind of belief is unreasonable and arrogant, Beck further contends that not only is redemption a key theme in our storytelling but it is even beneficial to think this way. In maintaining this optimistic template for our stories and extracting “positive meaning” from decidedly not positive events, studies show we further develop a personal identity and are more satisfied with our lives overall.
“In his research, Adler has noticed two themes in people’s stories that tend to correlate with better well-being: agency, or feeling like you are in control of your life, and communion, or feeling like you have good relationships in your life.” – Julia Beck
In her article, Julia Beck paraphrases Adler’s research concluding that when giving a personal narrative story, those who had a sense of either self-control or a personal support system had higher mental health, avoiding the possible side effect of having a dismal mindset. Their storytelling did not as easily give themselves away too depressive behaviors, but rather only strengthen their feeling of control.
“Put starkly, identity becomes a problem when the adolescent or young adult first realizes that he or she is, has been, and/or could be many different things, and experiences a strong desire, encouraged by society, to be one thing.” (McAdams, 189).
Dan McAdams states that in the crucial developmental years of young adults and children, society causes children to limit themselves. Although one may have many interests and ideas about themselves, the pressures of society force them to be one thing or another. Society does this through stereotypes and defining what is perceived as “normal”. Young adults and children are essentially coaxed into choosing themselves in order to fit in and meet social standards.
“Put starkly, identity becomes a problem when the adolescent or young adult first realizes that he or she is, has been, and/or could be many different (and conflicting things) things, and experiences a strong desire, encouraged by society, to be but one (large, integrated, and dynamic thing.” (MacAdams)
In “Identity and the Life Story”, Dan MacAdams asserts that our notion of “identity” is a construct used by emerging adults to reconcile the varied, clashing aspects of their personality. Recognizing that humans contain multitudes and remain dynamic throughout their lives, MacAdams hypothesizes that identity is merely an attempt to cover “large, integrated, and dynamic” aspects of one’s personality under one, seemingly-consistent visage. Furthermore, MacAdams argues that the reason emerging adults seek out methods of defining themselves so rigidly is due to a social expectation to fit a “niche” in a social landscape that promotes consistency.
“The other is that the act of telling is a rehearsal of the story, Pasupathi says. ‘And rehearsal strengthens connections between some pieces of information in your mind and diminishes connections between others. So the things I tell you become more accessible to me and more memorable to me. Those can be pretty lasting effects.’ So when people drop the cheesy pick-up line ‘What’s your story?’ at a bar, like a man who nicks his carotid artery while shaving, they’ve accidentally hit upon something vital.” (Julia Beck, “Story of My Life”)
In this passage, Julia Beck introduces the second point of Pasupathi’s theory explaining how people can shape their personal narrative through the retelling of stories/events. Beck explains the idea that storytelling serves as a rehearsal process through which the facts of the story are filtered, and the important moments are pulled out. This can easily be compared to the process of neural pruning as Pasupathi states the act of storytelling “strengthens connections” between some pieces of information while diminishing the connections between others. Both Beck and Pasupathi emphasize the importance of this process as a way to influence one’s personal narrative, and Beck even goes so far as to say it is “vital”.
“‘Identity’ is a difficult term: more or less everyone knows more or less what it means, and yet its precise definition proves slippery. In popular culture, it tends to be explicitly invoked only when it is seen as ‘being in trouble’. So we are accustomed to hear of ‘identity crises’, in which people are not quite sure who they are. Films such as Identity or The Bourne Identity signal identity’s absence or its pathology. Milan Kundera’s novel Identity (1999) is precisely about a perceived absence of, or misunderstanding about, identity, as both primary characters are in important ways unable to recognize each other. Various crises are said to provoke anxieties in people knowing ‘who they really are’. (Steph Lawler)
In discussing they ways in which identity is expressed in today’s media, Steph Lawler suggests that a fully developed identity formation process is not the standard, rather, films and novels pertaining to the subject of a identity most often highlight many complex issues involving an abnormality or absence of the identity. She adds that these various issues create concern in people knowing their identity.
“Identity exploration is considered an on-time developmental task for late adolescence and young adulthood (Cohler, 1982). Parents, high school teachers, siblings, friends, college admission counselors, the business world, the media, and many other aspects and agents of modern society explicitly and implicitly urge adolescents and young adults to ‘get life’ (Habermas & Bluck, 2000)”
Dan McAdams warns the reader of how identity has been perceived by the adult world around us. He states that identity is “considered an on-time developmental task” that is prematurely brought on by the people and environments we are surrounded by. These influences force young adults to figure out there like and themselves before they may be ready to, ultimately, creating what could be a false identity.
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