Growing up in a family oriented family is very beneficial. I grew up in a family of six, one brother, 2 sisters and both of my parents. I am the oldest of my siblings and took that role very seriously. Growing up we always went on adventures such as hiking, swimming or simply a picnic. I have never felt alone either physically or emotionally. Although, there are some things I can work on I consider myself fully developed according to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development.
According to Erik Erikson resolving crisis growing up determines if we will become a successful and social person. He separated certain conflicts into stages in the order he thought a person was exposed to. Getting through these stages determines if you are an autonomous person. The first stage focuses on trust vs. mistrust. This stage starts since birth all the way to our first year. Throughout that year a baby starts developing a sense of trust when their parent is always present and helping them meet their needs.
Seeing this ensures them that they are in a safe environment. Whereas if a baby isn’t properly cared for, they will lose the trust they had on their parents causing them to believe that they cannot trust anyone (Saul McLeod 2018).
I was born on January 31st of 1997. I am the oldest of my siblings, therefore my parents were inexperienced when they took me home. Although I did not know this at that age, I can now say I genuinely trusted them even though they were inexperienced.
I look back at family albums and see how happy I was at a young age however, I do remember times where I was not okay physically. It was when we realized I suffered from migraines. The first time I got one I was scared as I had never felt something like that. It turned out I got it from my dad’s side of the family. My dad calmed me down and explained everything that would happen and how I could prevent migraines from getting worse. Him being there for me and giving me medicine relieved me. At a young age they taught me that they would always be there for me even when its small gestures like covering me with a blanket at night or giving me a band aid when I scraped my knee. Seeing that they will always be there allowed me to develop a sense of trust in everyone and feel like I was in a safe environment.
Successfully completing the first stage has helped me in many occasions but the one that was the most significant to my psychological development was one of the milestones in my life. The month of February was the most traumatic for me in 2016. A couple days before my dad’s birthday we had a car accident. It was a hit and run. Luckily, I reacted quickly and was able to get the person’s license plate. We weren’t injured badly but we did have some bruises. We were required to go to the chiropractor for about 3 months. Besides the fact that we were hurt physically I also became paranoid. Just a couple weeks before the car accident I was learning to drive, after the accident I did not want to continue driving. I was expected to get my license a couple months after but delayed it because I feared getting into a car accident. Thankfully, I had a cousin that never gave up on me and taught me how to drive. I trusted her decision of allowing me to drive, so I began driving more everyday. However, I preferred driving with a passenger than alone. Slowly the paronia went away and I was driving on my own.
Everything seem as though it was getting better. Unfortunately, about two or three weeks after the car accident, I received bad news. My cousin who lived in Oregon passed away. He was just 19 years old, I hadn’t seen him in about two years. I still remember receiving that phone call. I had came back from school and was sitting in my living room. I told my mom and aunt who were there when I received the phone call.
My cousin and I were only a year apart and although we hadn’t talked in a while due to the distance I still cared about him. I thought I would be okay, I simply wanted to be strong for my aunt and uncle but when I saw his casket I could not move. My family walked to the front of the chapel to see him one last time, but I stayed behind. I could not believe he was really gone. It took me a while but I walked to the front and cried. I knew that in order for me to heal and grief properly I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable.
That month was extremely difficult for me. I indulged my time at the gym and listening to music in order to get distracted. However, I eventually decided to lean on family and friends as they were there to help me. This wasn’t hard to do as I was taught to trust others at a young age, which is the first stage in Erikson’s stages of of psychosocial development (Saul McLeod 2018). I am grateful that I had the courage to get up and see my cousin one last time. Not seeing him would have been one of my biggest regrets ever, and I am sure it would had affected me psychologically. Overall, now I am able to see that the trust I gained in the first stage of my psychosocial development help me deal with these traumatic experiences. Now I can say I can drive on my own and even get into the freeway without being scared. Knowing that I can trust my family whenever I need help is relieving.
The second stage of Erikson’s psychosocial development deals with a sense of autonomy as well as shame and doubt. A person goes through this stage at the age of 1-3 years old. At this age it is important for parents to allow their toddlers to participate in decisions that involve them such as allowing them to pick their outfit for the day. Doing things like these will help the child develop a sense of autonomy. Whereas, not allowing them to make decisions or disregarding their opinions will only make them feel ashamed and develop a low self esteem (Saul McLeod 2018) At a young age I was taught to not be afraid to speak up for what I believe in. Since I am the oldest sibling of four my parents always wanted me to feel as though my opinion was important. Simple decision making like deciding between ice cream or cake made an impact in my life. I was assured that my opinion was valuable and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed to share my opinions.
The third stage focuses on initiative vs. guilt which usually occurs from ages 3-6. This stage is very similar to the previous one. The successful outcome of this stage would be developing a sense of independence which presents itself when a child takes initiative in deciding what to do. Whereas children who do not attempt or fail to take initiative feel guilty because they do not have the power to make their own decisions (Saul McLeod 2018). As I stated before I am the oldest therefore I did not have anyone to look up to which meant I made a lot of mistakes growing up such as breaking things, or accidentally hurting myself. Luckily, since my parents helped me develop a sense of autonomy in the second stage I was able to take initiative when these incidents occurred. For example, one time my younger brother and I broke a small plastic table that my mom had just bought for us. A child who did not successfully complete the third stage would develop of sense of guilt whereas my brother and I developed a sense of initiative. We acknowledged that we had done something wrong, therefore we told our mom and we decided to take initiative and tried to fix the table. When we realized we could not fix it we decided to clean after ourselves. What I learned from this was that being taught at a young age to be autonomous and take initiative can benefit a child not only in their childhood but in adulthood as well.
I can see that now that I look back into a negative experience I went through in school. A classmate made fun of my appearance in physical education class as she was tall and average weight while I was short and stout. I was very upset throughout the day. Now that I look back into that experience I can see that this was the fourth stage in Erikson’s stages.The fourth stage presents the task of industry vs. inferiority at the age of 6-12. In this stage children pay close attention to their peers and usually end up comparing themselves to them. Some people might feel accomplished as they are similar to their peers, while others might feel inferior because they are different than their peers (Saul McLeod 2018).
Since I had that negative experience at that age, it made me feel somewhat inferior to my peers. Luckily, the year after this encounter I joined a sport for the very first time, cross country. I was nervous since I wasn’t in shape and hated running. Although, I struggled everyday to reach my goal I do not regret joining the team. I never made it to the varsity team but I definitely improved during the two years I was in the team. Cross country taught my body and mind how to become strong and endure running for a long period of time. I remember only running about ¼ of a mile and throwing up on my first day of practice. Despite this, I went from running ¼ of a mile to 5 miles daily. Since I successfully completed stage three which is the initiative vs. guilt stage, I was able to push myself and get through the fourth stage as well. Taking initiative and challenging myself definitely taught me many skills that will help me succeed not only in cross country but in life in general. Although, I am not fit today I always keep in mind that my body is strong and I can get back in shape if I set my mind to it.
Stage five focuses on identity role vs role confusion. This occurs at the age of 12-18. In this stage of our life, adolescents are trying to find who they are and what they believe in. The previous stages help determine if they are sure of who they are, what they believe in and what their goals are. On the other side, not knowing what they believe or not taking control of their life by making their own decisions makes them doubt who they are. Luckily, I developed virtues of hope, will, purpose, and competency during the first four stages (Saul McLeod 2018). These virtues have helped me develop a sense of who I am as a person. During my freshman year in high school I struggled to find a group of people I identified myself with. However, I took initiative and decided to join clubs around school such as cross country, health academy, AVID and link crew. All of these programs helped me become more sociable and more sure of who I was as a person. Cross country taught me to never give up, health academy taught me to be kind and care for others, and Avid and link crew taught me to always be sociable and to reach for your goals.
Throughout my life I have also realized that the learning theory plays a role in defining who I am. Growing up I saw how my parents struggled to get to where they are now. They worked hard everyday to put a roof over our heads. I tried imitating them by never giving up and using the observational and modeling steps which are attention, retention, reproduction and motivation (Kendra Cherry 2018). I paid attention to the dedication they put into their work. Retained that information then tried producing that dedication. Lastly, in order to be able to model my parents’ behavior successfully I need to be motivated, which I am. Thanks to the modeling process I perceive myself as a dedicated, trustworthy and caring person.
Furthermore, my spiritual beliefs also played an important role in molding my personality. I come from a religious low income family, however I consider myself rich since I am blessed with a supportive family. Growing up I did not have everything but I knew that everything would be okay as God is always with me. We went to church every Friday and Sunday. I was raised that way and so I kept going to church until recently. I started working and my job prevented me from attending church. This made my parents upset as they felt I was forgetting my beliefs and values. Although, I do not go to church all the time I hold my beliefs close to my heart because I wholeheartedly believe God is real and he watches us and protects us every single day. I know it might seem silly but I strongly believe my faith has got me to where I am right now.
According to Freud, the Id, ego and superego play an important role in forming our personality. In this instance, I know it would be wrong for me to completely stop going to church and indulge in “rebellious activities.” When my job would prevent me from attending a service I would feel guilty. This is because my superego (conscience) was telling me I was doing something wrong. My ego found a way to meet my needs without forgetting about my morals and values (Kendra Cherry, 2018). For example, now I do not work at the job that took time away from church, instead I work in a place where my schedule is flexible and allows me to attend church. Furthermore, I believe I have a healthy personality as I never let my Id influence negative or disruptive behaviors. Instead my ego and superego have strength as they fight the urges that my conscience sees as wrong (Kendra Cherry, 2018).
Going back to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, The sixth stage determines if one will be intimate or isolated. This occurs from ages 20-40. I am currently on this stage as I am 21 years old. According to Erikson, the stages in our adolescence play an important role in this stage. If we developed a sense of trust and autonomy we will most likely have no problem sharing our life with a significant other. While a person that struggled to successfully complete the stages will struggle to form relationships and will most likely end up isolated. As I mentioned before this stage is successfully completed when you are able to have stable and healthy relationships with others (Boundless, 2018). Since I was able to find who I really am in the earlier stages it was easy for me to open up and share my life with someone else. In a couple of weeks I will have my one year anniversary with my boyfriend and I strongly believe we have an intimate and strong relationship as we accept each other as we are, as well as stay true to who we truly are individually.
The seventh stages focuses on generativity vs. stagnation at the age of 40-60. Around this time most people have accomplished many things therefore, they focus on paying it off by helping the younger generations. This helps them develop a sense of generativity. However, when people don’t feel as though they have accomplished something they do not give back to the community which causes them to experience stagnation. This stage also correlates with the last one which is the task of integrity vs. despair from the ages 60-end of life. If someone feels accomplished they will develop a sense of integrity. However, someone who looks back at their work and isn’t satisfied, they will feel despair. In addition, they will only focus on the “what if’s” and create a depressing environment for themselves (McLeod, 2018)
Since I am the oldest of my siblings I feel like I cannot make a single mistake as I do not want to disappoint my parents nor set a bad example for my siblings. Therefore, when I do something wrong I stress over things I can no longer change. Overthinking is one of the challenges I have developed throughout my life. The “what ifs” are the hardest to deal with. This relates to Erikson’s psychosocial crisis, more specifically the fifth stage. Which is the identity vs. identity confusion. In this stage adolescents struggle with the roles their families place on them (week 3 Powerpoint slide 9).
I know that my siblings look up to me and my parents expect me to be successful in life as they worked so hard to give an education. I am hard on myself because I do not want to disappoint them. I am genuinely sure of who I am, but there are some characteristics such as being a perfectionist that are a challenge in my life and I need to work on that. I can probably do that by allowing myself to make mistakes at times at the end I am human, we all make mistakes.
Although, being a perfectionist might be a challenge I like seeing the positive side of it. The overthinking has helped me make good decisions amd become a good role model for my younger siblings. In addition, it has helped me develop many strengths such as being selfless and caring for others. Furthermore, my biopsychosocial development have taught me that I am a strong person that can accomplish whatever I set my mind to as long as I work hard and stay motivated. Thanks to these strengths I strongly believe I will successfully get through stages seven and eight when the time comes.
I belong to a Mexican community and I am proud of that. However, it is saddening to see that as of right now we are still victims of marginalization. You can clearly see signs of cultural racism among my community. Cultural racism occurs at a macro level. This theory suggests that the disadvantages we face are due to to our cultural behaviors. People always assume that we cannot succeed because of the way we choose to live.
They blame our culture, when in reality there are other factors that keep us from succeeding, such as unequal opportunities at jobs, as well as discrimination among the criminal and judicial system. People of color are always portrayed as bad people, when they simply want to better themselves and provide for their family (Rogers, 2016 ). Seeing what my community goes through each day in order to survive has made an impact in my life. This is why my goal as a social worker is to help those communities receive the resources they deserve.
In conclusion, Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, the learning theory and the Cultural racism theory give a good description of the struggles many people go through that end up affecting them forever. I acknowledge that there were some flaws within my biopsychosocial development. Despite this I strongly believe I am capable of addressing issues on my own as I have met the requirements in Erikson’s stages that demonstrate I have virtues such as love, fidelity, competency and will. Many milestones have made me the person I am today. Although, growing up was tough at times I am glad to say I gained many lessons and virtues because of those struggles. I really hope I get to share those virtues with other people once I become a social worker.