While this chapter was a big challenge for me to get through, I became exceedingly overwhelmed in trying to understand how someone could know so much about who I was as an adolescent and who I am today. I felt that John Santrock was writing my personal life story and how I have viewed myself since middle school. Self-esteem has been my most difficult challenge that I deal with on a daily basis. It brought into light that I have never really focused on fact that my self-esteem has never really changed.
John Santrock talked about a cross-sectional study that was conducted by Robins & others (2002). They had asked individuals to rate themselves on their self-esteem on a scale of one to five, five being “Strongly Agree” and one being “Strongly Disagree.” In reading this assessment, I found out that although I have a low self-esteem, I never realized that my rating was lower than requested. I view my self-esteem as zero. However, the most bizarre factor is that I perform drag, a female impersonator to raise funds for charity, and when I am in drag I feel that I would have to rate my self-esteem as a six. Now this is not to say that I want to be a woman, I just enjoy portraying females as if I was on a theatrical stage in a play.
Because of a long line of family, school and peers contributing to the development of my self-esteem (Dusek & McIntyre, 2003; Harter, 2006; Santrock, 2007; Turnage, 2004), I have never been able to view myself with a high self-esteem. I was always the brunt of the high school jokes and was belittled by my grand-mother throughout adolescence. Now I feel that my self-esteem is still low because I have felt like a failure in my life and because I am not up to the standards of what the view of beauty is, extremely thin. The ironic thing is that when I was in middle school, I never viewed my possible-self as being a female impersonator when I grew up, although I performed in a talent competition at the age of twelve as Madonna.
This made me realize that much of how I feel about myself in terms of self-esteem is related very much to my identity. Erik Erikson’s fifth development stage of identity versus identity confusion was somehow either lost or never passed through as an adolescent. I feel that I never passed through the psychosocial moratorium that Erikson describes as the gap between childhood security and adult autonomy. During high school I never felt that I was given the opportunity find my self-portrait, it was always what my family wanted me to do and be that I felt I had to achieve. All my ideas of who I was had to be what they all wanted of me.
I also noticed that while thinking back on my middle school and high school years, my possible-self always saw better things for myself than what the actual outcome in my life has turned out to be. My view was that I would have had my Doctorate in Music by the age of 28, would have been married within the same year, had at least three children, become a music instructor and never be like my father or grand-mother. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my Doctorate in Music and no longer have I chosen to be a music instructor; have yet to have any children; and the worst part, I am very much like my father and grand-mother. This is the one thing about who I am that I hate.
Throughout this chapter, I came to realize that many of the ideas that were presented to us about adolescence relate to me. Because of my loss of identity versus identity confusion when I was an adolescent, I feel that there is a major part of me that is going through that development right now in my life. The main reason I believe this is that I never truly transitioned from having many emotional mood swings as an adolescent to having fewer as an adult. This could be due to a number of medical issues that have never been found or diagnosed. It could also be due to the fact that I felt I never was allowed to be a true adolescent.
In understanding the concept of Erikson’s fifth developmental stage, I feel that now I can start focusing on things in my life presently and make the changes that I need to adjust properly to the correct developmental stage that I should be in, intimacy versus isolation. In this awareness, I hope to find the issues that have caused me to have bi-polar symptoms; outbursts of anger over the littlest things and sudden onset of crying for no apparent reason.