For an assignment in one of my classes we wrote an essay about our cultural influences. It was titled, “I am who I am because…” This really made me think about how I have gotten to the point I’m at, especially in this season of thanksgiving. As cheesy as it is, I am thankful for it all. Here are some more of my thoughts on why I am who I am:
It all starts from where I grew up, in the little town of Dyersville, Iowa. Also known as “Is this Heaven,” Iowa, for the popular movie “The Field of Dreams” which was filmed down the gravel road from my grandparents’ farm.
As un-perfect as I sometimes think small town life is, I am forever thankful for the tight-knit community and the Mid-Western values I grew up with. The majority of residents are or used to be farmers, so one easily picks up on hard work and persistence. But honestly, when you take a step back, it is almost sad how treating other people with respect and just being a good person is considered to be common in only this region.
To me, you say hello and wave at those you pass on the street and say thank-you to anyone that did something for you, you return favors and that’s just the way it is. I think of them as just values that everyone should possess, but that is not (generally) the case when you move to bigger cities and along the coasts
My religion has also had an impact on who I am. Religion is often times responsible for instilling these values discussed earlier. I am Roman Catholic, and grew up in a family whose family’s family were all Roman Catholic. The vast majority of my hometown and the surrounding area is also Catholic. So one could make the argument I was just forced into it. And yes I suppose I was at the beginning, but the same goes for any baby brought up in the tradition, or lack thereof, of their parents. I continue to actively practice this religion and continues to make me a better person by teaching me lessons and morals I may not otherwise be exposed to. I have learned how to love everyone, and am trying to do better at it.
My family has also had a huge influence on me, having younger siblings has caused me to develop motherly instincts. I couldn’t imagine my life as an only child or younger sibling. With all the stress with school, it’s nice to relax with them and hear about the stresses of 2nd grade. “Family” extends beyond blood lines. The people who were with me from the first day of preschool to high school graduation, quite literally been there through everything. I have a great support system and could go to them for assistance with anything.
I am also thankful for my new family, the people I have met at college. It was rough at first, being in a new place and meeting new people every hour. I was luckily able to find a group of people to be study group members, stress reliever’s, and even better friends. We’ve all gone through our fair share of struggles, so it’s nice to know I can come home to people who will watch weird videos with me and eat pizza at 1 AM.
As much as a mumble and groan, I have no right to complain. There are too many other aspects of my life that I wouldn’t change if I could. This time of year, people forget the real reason for the holidays. They are more concerned with getting a good deal than spending time with their family and taking a break. As sad as it sounds, it’s the truth, and I hope I am always able to remember the “reason for the season.”
I’m glad I took time to reflect over this, and I think everyone should at least spend 10 minutes just thinking about how gender, race, religion, work experience, family dynamics, class, and region affect who they are. You never know what you could discover.