To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s statement illustrates the difficulty of establish one’s true identity and sense of belonging. Humans are no means anti-social creatures and one of our quintessential traits is our desire to belong. Belonging gives us a purpose in life, it boosts our self-esteem and it provides us with a sense of security. However, groups often have self-policies that members have to abide to if they want to join the group. These policies hinder the development of our individuality and essentially our identiy. Likewise, the rapid development of technology in today’s society also detracts us from discovering who truly are and where belong. However despite this, discovering who we are and where we belong is not always an arduous journey for everyone if they stay true to themselves.
Firstly, belonging is often paradoxical in nature and often calls the need to sacrifice certain aspects of ourselves. For instance, groups often have self-policies that we have to abide to in order to fit in, we consciously change ourselves in order to develop a sense of acceptance and belonging. However, these changes merely creates a verisimilitude of our identity as it detracts us from who we truly area. In Skin, Sandra Laing was pressured to mask her Congoid identity in order to fit in with her family. Laing suffers from atavism which is known as a “genetic throwback” that causes her to develop Congoid features despite both her parents looking undeniably Caucasian. Her parents tried to suppress her Congoid identity and often emphasized the fact that she is “a white girl”, and even urged her to use skin bleaching products. Additionally, her parents often forced Laing to befriend Caucasians and condemn her when she interacts with Congoid people. Due to this, Laing often felt the need to cloak her Congoid identity and she often ponders on where she truly belongs.
This notion is exemplified in The Mind Of A Thief, as Joyce Williams recalls how Aboriginals were often forced to suppress their Aboriginal heritage in order to fit in with white society. Williams explains how Aborigines used to get “inta trouble” for speaking in their traditional languages and how Aboriginal parents were “desired to instruct their children, to make them like ourselves[Caucasians]”. However, after assimilation many Aboriginals still faced discrimination and were called derogatory terms such as “nigger”. This deters many Aborigines from discovering their sense of identity and beloging as even though they are not ‘Aboriginal’ anymore they still are not fully accepted by white society. Hence, it has been evident how hard establishing who we are and where we belong due to the pressures of our groups. In addition, in today’s society, despite technology being a massive part of our everyday life, however, it is often a detriment to the development of our identity and sense of belonging.
For instance, we are given the freedom to be whoever we want to be on social media we can easily change aspects of ourselves without the person on the side of the screen realizing. This is a huge detriment for us as many create fake identities online in order to develop a sense of belonging which they may lack in real life. For instance, MTV’s reality based-documentary Catfish: The TV Series explores the reasons why people dubbed as “catfishes” create fake identities on social media. Unsurprisingly, one of the main reasons is so that they can get the attention of many and feel like they belong and are appreciated which boosts their self-esteem. However, since many online relationships are short-lived, this fake identity only distorts these catfishes from discovering who they truly are and where they belong. Likewise, technology promotes the establishment of superficial relationships.
On Facebook, many teenagers feel the need to establish as many superficial relationships as they can just to receive more “likes” on their pictures or statuses. These superficial relationships distract these teenagers from establishing real meaningful relationships which allows us to discover who we truly are and where we belong. Consequently, it is clear that technology hinders the development of who we are and where we belong to a certain extent. However, despite the strong influences of the people around us and technology, some people are able to discover who they are and where they belong easily by staying true to themselves. For instance, Rose Chown from The Mind Of A Thief knew that what the Wiradjuri offered was not what she wanted and decided that she would contest for the Native Land title. Chown stuck to what she believed was the right thing to do due to the discrimination she faced from the Wiradjuri and as a result, she established herself as a warrior for Aboriginal rights and that she did not belong to the Wiradjuri.
Additionally, when Julian Assange exposed confidential and controversial information to the public has, he was labelled as a “terrorist” by the United States of America and has been condemned by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. However, by staying true to himself he knew what he wanted in life and was not fazed by the negative feedback from the officials of certain nations. Instead he established his identity as a journalist and also his sense of belonging by only surrounding himself with people that share the same ideologies as him. Therefore, it is demonstrated that people can discover who they are and where they belong easily if they stay true to themselves. Human beings are instinctively social creatures and the desire to belong is encoded in our brains. However, belonging is often paradoxical in nature as in order to fit in we might have to change certain aspects of ourselves.
This modification of ourselves deters us from discovering who we are and where we belong. Likewise, the advancement of technology in today’s society hinders the development of our individuality and belonging as it allows us to create false identities and encourages us to build superficial relationships. However, it is has been evident that by staying true to ourselves, it makes the journey of discovering where we belong and who we are much easier. Hence, it is important for us human beings to stay true to ourselves and embrace what we believe in as in the long run it is much more beneficial than establishing superficial relationships on social media or changing who you are to please others.