Personal identity can be described as a persistent yet distinct character or attribute that a person exhibits. One’s personal identity is regarded to be continuous and needs to be exhibited day in day out. It is a question of life and death. In philosophy, personal identity theory is one that seeks to answer the questions “Do we believe in life and or death?” and “who are we?”Several philosophers have attempted to examine the criteria of personal identity. One group of philosophers asserts that persons are immaterial souls or pure ego and can live after bodily death while others believe in psychological continuity –a view that believes in evolution into a different being after death myriad factors affect the personal identity of an individual. One of these is tradition. There are some traditions that have influenced my identity as a person as well as my life choices.
Parenting and upbringing shape the behaviors that we acquire at a very tender age of development. As a matter of fact, children tend to understand and ape their parents as their only available role models. In the two Kinds by Amy Tan, the mother’s influence on the daughter’s career forms the storyline. The mother believes that the daughter is a genius and can become a music artist in the future. She even goes to the extent of buying a piano for the daughter on her birthday. Parenting has played a paramount role in influencing who I am today. For instance, my parents are of Saudi Arabian origin and of Islam religion. My parents believe in a culture of collectivism. Personally, I appreciate extended relatives in a strong way. These attributes I have acquired from my parents who include the extended members of the family and the society at large. Sometimes who we inside just pop out like a volcano and runs over what other people and even parents may be thinking of us. In Tan’s story, the daughter becomes overly rude and rebellious at some point when she feels her mother’s efforts to make her a musician affect her psychologically. Again, what our parents believe in especially in religious matters becomes our belief by default. For example, I had no chance to choose to be affiliated with any religion but I am Muslim simply because I was born one. Moreover, I am so proud of my Islamic values. The society I live in is patriarchal in nature as such the husband takes control and is the head of the family. The patriarchal order of the society is characterized by cultural and religious values that permeate the society as a whole. Gender and sexuality are other factors that influence our personal identity. Gender dictates what clothes I wear, what kind of physical activities I can participate in, and my behavior to some extent. My religion and culture define gender roles and what is masculine or feminine. I wear Abaya and Hijab because our religion requires women to be decent and we put it on to be identified with Islamic ethics. I am so proud to be a Muslim.
The environment also shapes one’s personal identity. Being raised in a particular locality, the language spoken, the activities, and the opportunities available can influence one’s personal identity. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley, Malcolm is discouraged to take up and pursue a course that he would have excelled in by his teacher just because he is a Negro. He grew up in an Environment that discriminated against people like him. This shaped his future in a bigger way. Personally, I consider my Nationality to be my identity. I am Saudi Arabian and this influences the language I speak. The easiest way to identify people is to listen to the language that they speak. Apart from that, my nationality shapes my behavior because in my country citizens uphold national standards and values that unite us. Weaver in his story narrates how his choice to major in English was not well received by his family and the neighbors. The society described in the story is of the view that English is already known by people as such is less popular as compared to other majors such as engineering, veterinary, and agriculture. Despite all these challenges, the ambitious Walter never relents in his quest for what he truly wants to do and to be.
Finally, our life experiences can influence our personal identity. At some point in our lives, we make pivotal turns that can impact in a great way our personal identities. Malcolm for instance suffers from prejudicial attacks of racial discrimination. The moment Malcolm realized that even though he excels in his studies he cannot be whoever he wants to be because of the color of his skin, his attitude toward everything and everybody around him changes. This experience informed his attitudes and values towards racism. Personally, I like things like computers because I find them very interesting devices. I love art and travel as well. The more I interact with my hobbies the more I like them. Of all the factors I have mentioned, my religion, cultural background, nationality, language, and familial roles are the most important in defining my identity.