A person’s story or who they are is based on experiences they’ve faced throughout their lives. People are largely influenced by an abundant amount of external factors that help determine in which ways an individual is socialized. This socialization arises from the moment we are born, allowing us to become continuously shaped by external factors. We are mainly shaped by family, friends, and most importantly, society as a whole. After paying close attention to who I am over the past few years, I now know that my life has been shaped by my family, society, and the experiences that I’ve been through. These three factors have shaped the way I view others, as well in which ways they’ve influenced me.
From July 1, 2001, the day I was born, I was given an ascribed status of a Muslim American, which I knew would be a very important role to play in my life as I got older. I come from a big family, with my mother, father, four sisters, and brother. I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, but both of my parents are from Afghanistan, a country with a strong cultural heritage. Because of this, they have seen and still see things differently than I do. Based on my gender, my mother and father have made their own decisions on which ways they were going to raise me, including the ways I dress, the way I act, and what is to be expected of not only me, but my sisters as well. Primarily, my parents knew how to raise me from experiences they’ve had in Afghanistan and America, causing them to treat me a certain way based on society’s standards. My family has had a great impact on my life, as they’ve taught me many things.
My mother and father, along with my older brother and sister have all had an impact of my outlook in life. Since all of them were born in Afghanistan, they’ve taught me that the meaning connected to the word family’ is different there than it is here in America. This led me to believing in strong family ties and togetherness, no matter how tough times get. A Family’s reputation is an essential part of the Afghan culture, where the actions of one family member affect an entire family’s reputation. For this reason, most families in Afghanistan are very cautious of their children’s upbringing since society will judge them based on the presentation of their kids, especially their daughters. They also helped me understand why values and beliefs are so important in life. Since I was little, I’ve been given an understanding of the cultural aspect of family values and norms. This allows me to understand that the person I’ve become is based on the values I acquired from watching my parents behaviors and their social interactions with others.
They introduced me to the social aspects of kindness, respect and good behavior when connecting with diverse people in the social structure. By teaching me everything they’ve acquired throughout their lives so far, they definitely influenced my life significantly. As I previously said, being a muslim from Afghanistan plays a very important role in my life. This has had another significant impact on my life. Because this makes me different from some others, I’ve been judged many times during my life by people in ways that I feel nobody should have to go through. Due to the terrible disaster that took place on September 11, I faced the awful side of religious discrimination. Although I was only two months old when this tragedy occured, it caused stereotyping views against Muslims, and led us to being seen as enemies of America, even until today.
Over the years, I’ve come across many incidents such as getting weird stares for wearing a headscarf, being called a terrorist, and hearing that I don’t belong in America and need to go back to where I came from. Not only did this make me feel left out, but it also made me feel different compared to those around me in a negative way. Based on my personal experiences, I have come to an understanding that people in a society are deviant, meaning they make social judgements, such as deciding what someone is like based on what they look like from the outside, not even knowing what they’re truly like. From the elementary through high school, I’ve attended a private school for muslims. Although there were students from a different country and/or race, I was never given the proper opportunity to meet or speak with anyone from a different religion. Going from a private school to a more public environment has been a very big transformation for me. I was afraid of going somewhere different than the school I attended because I had the idea that some people would not be comfortable around me because of where I’m from.
Now that I attend a very diverse community college, I’m able to meet others whose religion is different from mine. Despite this difference, I learned that not everyone in a society is so quick to judge, and that they are in fact understanding of who I am and are able to accept it. As a result, this has made me more confident in who I am. Throughout my first semester of college, I have made strong social ties with new friends, causing my social network to increase.
Because social interactions are essential for adaptability to a different culture and social structure, It’s important for me to maintain these relationships as they allow me to connect with people from various ethnic backgrounds and be included in a diverse population. As I spend my time in community college figuring out what I want to do in the future, I will continue to grow and learn more about myself. Being a Muslim from Afghanistan and living in America for my whole life has supplied me with a variety of mental and physical sociological changes. I have embraced a different social structure by living in America, but am still aware of my original social structure by being from Afghanistan.
I’ve learned to incorporate what I know about both of these countries and use that knowledge throughout my everyday life. Although being a muslim has put me through some ups and downs, I am and will always be proud of the person that I am, the person that my parents raised me to be. Living as a Muslim female has enabled me to learn how the history of my race has affected my life, and how it’s turned me into the independent woman that I am.
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