(Visualize us, n.d.)
Each one of us has his or her own identity that is different from others. There are different people, so there are different identities. However, a person’s identity itself is always changing depending on many things. We realize that Identity is multi-faceted, and includes many traits in each person, which depend on many things: who, where, and how. This indicates that there are many factors that play roles in influencing a person’s identity. These factors may drive us to change our identity according to the environment we live in, place where we are, relationships with people around us, or life experiences we have. So, how do these factors influence a person’s identity?
Environments and places have a significant influence on a person’s identity . According to Hauge (2007), “Home and dwelling are very important in most people’s lives, and consequently, they are significant in influencing identity.” (p. 1). People always try to transition to different environments, which lead to encountering different cultures. This moving to different environments can cause a significant shift in a person’s identity. Although people like to transition to different environments for their reasons, they try to keep their identity, which shows others who they are and from where they came from. Hauge (2007) says that Breakwell argues, “Places are important sources of identity elements. Aspects of identity derived from places we belong to arise because places have symbols that have meaning and significance to us. Places represent personal memories, and because places are located in the socio-historical matrix of intergroup relations, they represent social memories (shared histories).” (p. 6). Hauge (2007) pointed out that Breakwell argues, “Being in new and different places affects identity through attenuation/accentuation, threat and dislocation.” (p. 6). For example, my parents as Saudi citizens, they faced difficulty adapting with Canadian culture when we arrived because they grew up in Saudi Arabia. They have a totally different perspective on life in Canada. But when they found other Saudi people, they felt better because they found common things between them, which helps them avoid losing national and cultural identity. They want to find their sense of belonging and their true identity. The home has a strong influence on identity.
People around a person also have an influence on his or her identity. A lot of people are influenced by others around them because their identity is different depending on who they deal with. There are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, teachers and more. For example, when we deal with parents, it is different from when we deal with our friends. Lisa (2008, p. 1) pointed to Mead, who argued that, “One’s sense of self is mutually interdependent with one’s sense of other. What we think that others think of us has a great influence on the way we perceive ourselves and in turn shapes our thoughts, decisions and behaviours.” This show that our identities are formed in part through our interactions with others.
A lot of experiences may influence a person’s identity. Some of them can have a big influence on a life, such as being a teacher. This career may help to create a new identity. So, how to get a teacher’s identity? According to Yerkes (2004), “I have discovered that what has shaped me, as a teacher are things from my past, things that are going on in my present, and thoughts of the future. People I have met when in high school, college, and especially my student teaching internship have shaped my teacher identity. The books, articles, and conversations I have had with many people have shaped my teacher identity.” What is teacher identity? Yerkes (2004) says, “Above are all questions and statements, which have crossed my mind in discovering the overall question of what is my teacher identity. How does one act like a teacher? What qualities do teachers possess? And most importantly how does one achieve these goals? Entering my student teaching program, I thought I had all I needed. All I needed was to do my best possible work this year and then it would all be downhill from there. Was I ever wrong?” She goes on to say (2004), “I have learned that teaching is more than just standing up in front of a classroom. Teaching comes from within. Teaching is all about who you are as a person. This profession is very heart wrenching. This profession never leaves you. Once you are pulled into this career, you never leave. Teaching is difficult. If you do not know who you are as a person then teaching is going to be even harder. I have learned a lot about myself as a person. I have had to face things I have never wanted to before and teaching is something that pulls at your heartstrings. Teaching is a passion.” So, our careers and studies have a strong impact on exploring a new identity inside of us, which influences our behavior. The way of acting as a teacher is different from the way of act as a student at university, or as a daughter at home.
A person’s identity is always different depending on where are, who we are with, and what we do. These factors make each one of us a unique person with a different identity.
Hauge, Å. L. (2007). Identity and place: a critical comparison of three identity theories. Architectural Science Review, 50(1), 44-51.
Visualize us. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://vi.sualize.us/somewhere_out_there_message_quotes_saying_pics_quote_picture_m5wU.html
Yerkes, K. (2004). Exploring Teacher Identity: A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher. Professional Development School. Retrieved from http://www.ed.psu.edu/englishpds/inquiry/projects/yerkes04.htm.
Whittaker, L. (2008). “Scotland’s Shame”: A Dialogical Analysis of the Identity of Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training.Psychology & Society, 1, 54-64.