I grew up in a non-traditional household in The Philippines. Growing up I have realized that what “normal” meant to most of my peers was a complete family. Despite the lack of one parent, my 2 siblings and I were raised gracefully by my strong mother and the rest of my other family members. Raised in a comfortable and thriving household, the lifestyle was considered middle-class, or financially comfortable, by society. Like most individuals, money and a secure future was and still is a social factor that drives me to achieve more in order to gain stability as I grow older.
In the age of 16, we made our way to the United States of America where I continued my high school education. This is where I first encountered culture shock. This can be defined as confusion towards social norms of a different culture that are different from what you are used to (Kendall, 2018). “It is essential that students are prepared for the change in cultural norms and are supported by the academic staff to work through the processes required to adapt to culture shock” (Maginnis and Anderson, 2017).
Now at 23 years old, I am able to express myself more freely.
As someone who is a fan of different types of music, the United States is the perfect place to indulge in Popular Culture where music, art, and performances enjoyed by most individuals are abundant. Despite the fact that I have finished my teen years and started my twenties here, I still had to go through a different type of self-revelation because of the differences of the Filipino culture and American culture.
Socialization is defined by an individual’s constant need to adapt to the growing times and environment throughout their lifetime (Kendall, 2018). High School was a difficult time where I had to adapt to American school culture and the teenage scene. I experienced a lot of false expectations based on how I looked. This is called Racial Socialization. This is when physical appearance contains expectations or ideas from society. However, as I grew up and became a little more wiser than before, I am now able to grasp the idea of self-confidence, the importance of individuality, and the drive to become a commendable nurse that can help millions of people, while maintaining my quirky personality through my fascination in music, movies, and Disney.
For the Sociobiography component of this paper, I interviewed my mother who took both the roles of mother and father as we grew up. My mother was born and raised in The Philippines and is the 4th of 6 children. She too experienced culture shock when she studied High School here in the United States before coming back for college in The Philippines. Growing up in a different time meant growing up surrounded by different beliefs and opinions regarding many different issues. She has definitely experienced ethnocentrism where for a while she was the only Asian in her batch of school mates, and most were not familiar with that culture and her physical attributions and deemed it inferior. “Ethnocentrism forms a foundation on which nationalism and even racism dwells” (Reimer, 2017, p. 154). Over time, people embraced these differences therefore her stay in the United States as a teen is one of her favorite memories. In the social context, my mother considers herself a leader and strong figure. The sociological imagination, or the awareness of her role as a single mother in society (Kendall, 2018) was apparent but did not let her down. During the period of being a single mother, she was aware of the role she had to take on to raise her children properly. There was a time where being a single mother meant weakness and failure. However, she was able to prosper despite these societal opinions. The evolving times lifted up the stigma of being a single mother and turned it into a role for the strong and proud. “Gender and Women’s Studies have long explored popular culture as texts from which to examine societal conceptions of gender equity and the tensions around feminism, sexuality, patriarchy, traditional marriage, courtship, and gender roles” (Goren, 2016, p. 482).
Answering the question, “what events, moments, or relationships in your life have impacted you significantly?” my mother notes that the moment we were born she knew her role in life is to help us pave our ways in the world and make us successful and empathic human beings.
Comparing my mother and I’s experiences regarding race and expectations, I was able to see and learn many different cultures of the students around me. I was able to grasp the meaning of diversity and the importance of respect and open-mindedness, which in turn included respect and curiosity towards mine. My mother, however, was a new student to a school that lacked representation, specifically Asian representation. This caused misunderstandings and bullying initially. This stopped once she assimilated into the American school culture. Every era or generation has a specific time of Pop Culture. Hers included Janet Jackson and teenage Johnny Depp, while mine include Beyoncé and Netflix and raves. Technology was also very different back then, where smart phones were not produced yet and the culture of acceptance and individuality was not spread out as much because of the lack of the internet and connection with people around the world unlike today’s time. The interconnections between my life experiences and the society vary. As a member of a group that is better represented today, I am able to be more socially aware of the positive impact I can convey and give to society. Deviance is defined as a role, belief, or representation that is not seen as normal to society (Kendall, 2018). Past “deviant” behavior such as colored hair, gender binary expectations, strong women, have been taken down and society has embraced these different personalities. We are more socially aware of our differences and embrace them, which is how I am able to convey my role in the larger society.
The sociological imagination conveyed in my life story consists of my identity and how society perceives that identity. I imagine that I am who I am based on biology, however I also know that society’s views have also required me to gain strength and confidence to succeed not only academically but in my social life as well. As an Asian immigrant, stereotypes have driven me to succumb to the pressure of always being on top even though status did not matter to me. This has caused depression and anxiety as a younger teenager back then. “It has been repeatedly reported in the medical literature that adolescent Asian Americans, especially females, have one of the highest rates of major depressive disorder (MDD) among all ethnic groups in America, reaching as high as 71% in female adolescents from Southeast Asia” (Nissirios, Levitt, and Pimentel, 2017). My mother has been a nurse for more than a decade in the United States and despite her role as a mother to her children, she also recognizes her role in the medical field to help sick people around her. Being a single mother has pushed her to achieve great things in her career and despite society’s opinions on single motherhood in the past, it has now shaped her into a strong and graceful individual.