Self-awareness is being able to understand one’s own personality, strengths, weakness, thoughts and beliefs. Ideally, everyone should have a sense of their self-awareness since no human being is alike. We are all different and possess a diverse set of skills and strengths that make up those differences. Some people have power and privilege. Some people lack either power or privilege. One’s characteristic view of him or herself can cause society to perceive them as being different. Do we know what that diversity is? This paper will discuss the topic: how we as people deal with our self-awareness.
According to Baumeister (2005), “Self-Awareness is about anticipating how others perceive you, evaluating yourself and your actions according to collective beliefs and values, and caring about how others evaluate you.” I would like to describe myself as an unfinished work of art. Somewhere, along the way, I discovered my self-awareness. I am still applying my discovery to my day to day life. Growing up, I faced many challenges, including being raised by family members, outside of my parents; facing a culture shock in school; and dealing with racism and discrimination within my community.
I did not consider myself to be poor, because I was provided with everything I needed, but I always wondered if things could be better. Although things were not perfect, I was brought up within the church and learned to have faith in the Lord. As I grew older, I gained much strength and courage knowing that I would one day become a wife, mother, and working citizen in or around my community. In the past others have often perceived me as a positive role model and motivated individual, I pray that I continue to be perceived that way.
In my adolescent years I dealt with racism and discrimination, I shed many tears during this period of life. I discovered that I was different from my peers, which caused me to be afraid and concerned. I attended an elementary school that had predominantly African American students, but once I entered junior high, it was predominantly Caucasians. This was a culture shock for me, being that I had never been surrounded by so many Caucasians in a school setting. Many days, I was often concerned about attending school, not knowing what to expect or how I would be treated.
In previous years, I had always participated in extracurricular activities, but that changed in junior high. I and other African American students desired to be part of different activities, but were very seldom chosen to participate. Even though previously we’ve held high rankings, the Caucasian kids whose families had power, privilege, and political ties were selected. In a sense, the African American students were silenced from participation in extracurricular activities such as sports teams, dance, cheerleading, and clubs.
A week before my 8th grade end of the year field trip, I received a letter from my school’s Assistant Principal. The letter was written to inform me that I would not be allowed to attend the field trip. The letter stated that I had accumulated to many unexcused absences. I was hurt and confused, being that I knew I rarely missed school, and I always had documentation to validate my absences. After the field trip, I learned that several Caucasians who in fact had disciplinary records, including suspensions could attend the field trip. Several African American parents went to the school and demanded to know why their child was not allowed to attend the field trip. The Principal stood his position of power and stated that the Caucasian students held a good academic status. In the end, it was discovered that several of the Caucasian students had family members who were employed with the School Board.
This was disheartening and I felt as though I was treated unfairly. In turn, I felt the need to reciprocate the tension that I felt as a mistreated student. I made the decision to purposely treat several Caucasian peers unfairly. Other African American students and I started a horrible rumor about some of my Caucasian peers. I even found myself instigating a fist fight that ended very violent. I knew it wasn’t true, but I wanted to operate in a mean way, in hopes of making Caucasians feel the way I had so often felt. I did know that this was outside of my normal character, but I was so hurt by how I had been treated.
According to Lopez (2018), “Survey respondents were more likely to say that black girls, compared to white girls, needless nurturing, less protection, to be supported less, to be comforted less, are more independent, know more about adult topics, and know more about sex.” Every child in society no matter the ethnicity or race should receive support and protection from their school system because many do not receive that at home. According to Correspondent (2011), “100,00 children run away from home every year.”
Many children often go to school in hopes of escaping common problems that are occurring in their home environment such as abuse, relationship difficulties, or loneliness. School should be a safe place for children, a place where children are free of bias and criticism, if a child is unable to perform in a classroom setting, he or she should not automatically face disciplinary actions at such young ages. Excessive disciplinary measures could ultimately affect the child in the future. According to Lopez (2018) a report found “that black students in K-12 schools are far more likely to be disciplined through suspension or referral to law enforcement than their counterparts of other races.”
An African American child can have the same level of misbehavior as a Caucasian child; however, the treatment is not the same. A Caucasian child would be evaluated as having a behavioral problem, and given treatment, whereas an African American child will be considered as unmanageable or disruptive, and given a harsh punishment.
As a child I can remember being in elementary school like it was yesterday. I used to have so much fun, it was a place full of joy and excitement. However, once I entered junior high school and began to deal with incidents that involved racism, bias, and discrimination, I started to view the world in a different lens. A child should never have to deal with racism and discrimination. A child is not born with these behaviors. Children are taught to behave in certain ways, as evidenced through the nature versus nurture debate. Because of this, schools should operate in ways to nurture the esteems and identities of all students by promoting fair practices for discipline and instruction.
The definition of characteristic is defined as “A special quality or appearance that makes an individual or a group different from others” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). After being treated unfairly I started to question myself about my outer appearance, attitudes, and attributes. Was I treated differently only because my skin was a different shade from my peers? I did not understand how the contrast of my skin color from others could determine whether I would be able to do certain activities. I believe that incidents in which I lacked power, privilege, and ultimately was treated unfairly helped mold me into the woman that I am today. I stayed in school and received my diploma; my education is not a material thing; it cannot be taken away from me. I now know that I was using the Strengths Perspective Theory, I used my talents, family, peers and resources to gain strength to get through life’s adversities.
Racism is still prevalent in the world today, and school is one place that it can be found. Can you imagine being a child dealing with abuse at home daily, then going to school, and receive the same treatment just in a different form? The despairing part about this is that children face many challenges in society, in their communities, and home environments. Some students face the harsh daily reality of being belittled or humiliated because they are different than their peers. I know several African American students, mostly males who’ve dropped out of High School because they felt as though they were better off in the streets. They stated that while in a school setting, they rarely received the same treatment or opportunities as their peers. Race or ethnicity should not determine whether a child can attend school, gain an education, or be involved in activities inside the school setting.
Having an inspiring upbringing in the church home has played a vital role in my adult life. As I stated earlier, I consider myself to be an unfinished work of art, I am working on myself daily. Having self- awareness has changed me for the better, I believe that now I have a clear perception of my personality. How I am perceived by others does not bother me because I know that I am superb person. I’ve gained strength through my resources such as my embodiment of The Strengths Perspective Theory. This theory has allowed me to determine what changes I want to make as I grow older. Never again will I purposefully treat people unfairly. I strive to ensure that other children have a different upbringing than myself. I do not focus my attention on negativity, instead, each day I learn how to look at life from a positive aspect.
As the universe evolves, I still receive positive reinforcement from family, friends, and peers. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. If I know a certain person or environment is negative, I will not be present in that environment. I now understand that everyone is not the same, we all have different attitudes and characteristics that make us who we are. When I finally decided to not let other people’s actions towards me control my happiness, is when I started to feel more secure of myself. I then gained a better understanding of myself. I do not think that I am better than anyone, however I do believe that I am different and unique. I know what areas of my life I want to make changes and improvements. I do things differently daily in hopes of becoming who I am destined to be. I believe that as of today I am stronger, wiser, and better than I have ever been before, I am patiently waiting to see all the beautiful things life has in store for me and my family.
Social Work, just like many other jobs, has its pros and cons. Social Workers face challenges and uncertainties daily. “Social Workers often encounter people when they are at their darkest hour” (Ayres, n.d.). Social Workers normally come into play, when times become difficult for an individual or a family. A vital part of a Social Workers job is to find and offer adequate resources to individuals and families. Working as a Social Worker may not always be entertaining. However, it can be rewarding, knowing that you helped an individual or family overcome their adversities. Social Workers often see the worst of humanity, being so it is paramount that a Social Worker have a good sense of self-awareness.
I believe that the characteristics I embody will have a positive impact on my work as a Social Worker. I consider myself as a person of strong empathy, empathy is key in Social Work. I am empathetic by nature. I find myself identifying with others and their situations often. I am an active listener; I will gain trust and discover the information that is of importance that relates to clients. I am sensitive to others body language; I can read between the lines and determine the feelings and thoughts that the person I am helping is holding in. I will accept criticism for what it is and improve what needs to be improved. I will coordinate as well as actively communicate with different sources so that clients will obtain what is needed to better themselves and their situations. I will always maintain a clean, safe and secure environment for myself as well as clients, while always keeping things professionally and confidential.
- Ayres, C. (N.D.). 15 Pros and Cons of Being a Social Worker.
- Baumeister, R. F. (2005). The Culture Animal: Human Nature, Meaning, and Social life. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/100000-children-run-away-from-home-every-year-5382921.html.
- Correspondent, C. N. (2011, September 17). 100,000 children run away from home every year. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/100000-children-run-away-from-home-every-year-5382921.html.
- Lopez. (2018, April 05). Black kids are way more likely to be punished in school than white Study finds. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/4/5/17199810/school-discipline-race-racism-gao.
- Merriam-Webster. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/characteristic.