A Reflection of My Mental Growth

Topics: Bisexuality

Widening Spirals: An Intellectual Autobiography

Looking back at how I have developed over the years, I’d call my mental growth a Fibonacci sequence. That may not be familiar at first, but there is a commonly known image that depicts it very well. When people refer to a chambered nautilus, they’re often imagining a photograph of its shell, sliced crosswise to reveal its interior. The nautilus builds it as it grows, making new chambers for its softer rear body throughout its life.

The result is a spiral conforming to the mathematical progression Fibonacci formulated many thousands of years after the nautilus evolved to depict it. My beliefs and knowledge growth have echoed this pattern as well. Unlike the animal, however, I can access those chambers and build from them, forming new and better ones as my mind expands.

My innermost chambers were built in a small town’s schools and my home parish, the common wisdom of the 1970s and lessons of the previous decade reaching even our part of the world.

I was a voracious and advanced reader from the start, so books the average seven-year-old would be steered away from were open to me. Having older siblings in high school thus gave me a broader base than most my age would have. Elie Wiesel’s Night was a shattering read even with what little life experience I had when I picked it up after one such family member received it for a class assignment. I learned from Night that humanity can be deeply depraved by conscious choice but also that it’s possible to survive being on the receiving end and then work to dismantle its effects.

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The wrongness of hatred was committed to my mind by Wiesel’s words, a chamber to support the growing body of my mind. My first look at feminism worked much the same way a few years later. I found a text on it aimed at girls my age in the local library and devoured it in an afternoon. The core awareness I had of the oppression aimed at people of my gender found its vocabulary and hasn’t been quiet since.

I could mention two other books that either sung my mind into greater being or taught me by opposite examples how I wanted to develop and become. Being given both The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and The Stranger by Albert Camus back-to-back in sophomore French class and the resultant debates between my teacher and an atheist classmate over their respective philosophies sealed my chamber of knowing that the world has more to it than meets the eye even if one abandons the idea of deity as part of that.

Life experiences have built many chambers in my shell, too. Moving from a mostly white small town in New England to a highly diverse section of the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 16 ripped so many scales from my eyes, that I had to recycle them for shell walls. A dozen television shows with people of color as characters can not teach the inherent humanity of the people they represent against cultural and parental cues telling me otherwise. Running face-first into my racism and naivete did in so many small incidents that picking one out would be folly. But I could and did cross-connect back to my chamber of rejecting hatred and am still doing so today.

I developed my first area of specialized study as a child, gravitating toward the performing arts for several reasons. Singing in choirs and acting in plays laid the foundation for learning the need to set aside ego while keeping self-esteem. I also built mental chambers committed to knowing it takes many people’s gifts and skills to make a group effort worth it, and even a background player helps build the entire presentation. Studying plays from different eras and cultures gave me a deeper awareness of the common threads of humanity’s needs and desires as well as how long we’ve been acting the way we do as a species. It’s difficult to hold on to the idea that the Victorian belief about women not wanting sexual satisfaction was how people thought for all time when you perform Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and demonstrate women from a long way back were just as hungry for their men as vice versa to an appreciative audience.

It would be deeply wrong of me not to refer to the core of my religious and spiritual chambers’ base and expansion. As you might surmise from my reference to my home parish, I was a happily devout Roman Catholic as a child, even flirting with joining a convent while also dreaming of Broadway stardom. My church’s priests were all drawn from a tradition that prized knowledge alongside the charity and some of my CCD teachers weren’t shy of going deeper if prodded. One was a former Jesuit priest who abandoned the cloth for a wife and left me aware that rules have fine details and gray areas. I then had what for many would be the one transformative religious experience they’d ever seek in their lives and became a born-again Christian a few months after arriving in California.

Due to many small choices and incidents over the years, I no longer profess that faith. I have even taken the steps to undergo a different religious transformation, studying for and becoming a priestess devoted to a god in the Irish Pagan pantheon. However, that early step did give me a strong demonstration of the need to look within to find the truth. The fact this led to my abandoning monotheism entirely for a Neo-Pagan approach to polytheism would scandalize the people who taught it to me. It serves me more than well, though. I almost used a serial metaphor of how the houses of worship I use changed over the years to demonstrate my broadening perspective in this essay, but it was impossible to make it cogent in a simple paragraph.

Those foundational chambers I’ve described have all been worked with as I’ve grown. Being able to look within for my truth has led to me recognizing my actual sexual orientation against the flood of claims outside of me that bisexuality isn’t real. My desire to avoid spreading hatred within and without myself drove me deeper into understanding those whose genders are mis-assigned at birth, finding in the end that my own is not fully expressed by what I state on my driver’s license. I’m a woman for sake of argument because that’s true enough, but too much of me defies any gender label I could try to apply to it for me to say that is all I am. And where I’ve come to at this point in my life is a sort of synthesis of my prior learning.

As I am a psychology major taking this course as an elective instead of majoring in interdisciplinary studies, the concept of integrating the other areas I’ve studied over time might seem strange to some. But while contemplating and writing this essay, I’ve noticed how it all builds and combines. Theater and music both deal with communication on different levels and in different styles.

They have also led me to examine other ways of thinking. My lifelong studies on an amateur basis of religion and spirituality have opened me further to see how diverse people are while still seeking the same basic needs. The early exposure to what is now called social justice issues when I discovered feminism was more than a punch line and a failed Constitutional amendment has goaded me into embracing my neurneurodiversitya person with ADHD, PTSD, and dysthymia as well as working toward more people seeing that others should be treated as complete humans instead of being reduced to caricatures of their mental disorders. This last brings my major into a more interdisciplinary light.

Using psychology to see the entire person and lead them to better health as they need it requires me to embrace diversity. I could not do that if I didn’t bring in what I gained from other disciplines. Too many of my fellow students treat their potential patients as targets of pity or toys to experiment with because psychology as a stand-alone approach permits and sometimes encourages it. I don’t want to fall prey to that mindset. The shell of my prior learning that I always carry with me protects me from it.

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A Reflection of My Mental Growth. (2022, Jun 16). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-reflection-of-my-mental-growth/

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