What Is the American Identity?
How I define American identity is living in the land founded by both political and religious leaders, and being part of the American culture. As Americans we are viewed as the abolitionist who fights for what we believe is just. During the founding years of our nation we were led by thoughts of both the radicals and constrictive, religious and political leaders. Over the years we have come to reach a state of equilibrium between the opposing groups for a stable and functioning society.
Most Americans value civil rights. Compared to countries around the world, the United States is a younger country. From day one the United States has always been known for its freedom and democracy. Today’s society is in a constant state of evolution. Every day there is new progress made somewhere; whether it is along the lines of technology, medicine or knowledge, somewhere in the world there are new advancements beings made continually. With America being such a young nation compared to other countries around the world we evolve at a rate much faster than most. If you look at the recent revolts over the past few years, they take place in regions where the governing limits the power of the people. In our society we the people limit the power of the controlling government. The Declaration of Independence opens with “We the people,” including all of those who make up the nation. When the power is literally placed in the hands of those who it directly effects, by no means does this limit our people but pushes them to explore and question the unknown of the nation we control.
Even though our society can be broken down into different ethnicities, as a whole we are a culture of our own. A very unique bread of all our own, the values, dedication, hard work, and perseverance makes us American. With America being an infant country, we pull the strengths from all different regions of the world to build what we call the American identity. Regardless of where your blood has come from Americans come together to value hard work, perseverance, freedom, and determination to better their lives. Even though we all come from something different we all have the pursuit of happiness. All of this combined is why we call ourselves American and is what makes up the true American identity which we all can relate to.
To me, I am myself and no one else. I don’t find following the role of someone else to be unique or enjoyable. I do what I enjoy regardless of other people’s opinions. I personally would much rather become my own leader then follow someone else. Setting aside others' views on how I live my life allows me to live my life how I enjoy it, not how others think I should.
I enjoy a lively social life while still having my own personal alone time. One of my favorite pastimes is motocross or, anything a little on the edge mixed with speed. At the end of the day when the small things start to get to me, I always have my bike to hop on and just let everything go while I ride. When I am riding it allows me to have that time to myself and just enjoy what I am doing. Not having to worry about what else is happening in life with all of the stressors and responsibilities. Once I reach that point when I am relaxed I start to rewrap my head around all of the thoughts. I find that time important to clear my mind for that point in time. This allows me to regroup my thoughts and process them clearly.
One example that strikes my mind is from a few months back right at the start of my first semester at SUNY Fredonia. In early August I had experienced a loss in my family that really was quite mind-blowing, the death of my uncle and the next day the death of a friend. After the news was first relayed to me I didn’t seem to believe it to be true. The first thing I did was grab my keys and load up my bike and take off to the local track for the rest of the day. That afternoon I spent what seemed to be like ten minutes riding my bike, when in reality I had been riding for hours. During that time I first managed to just lose myself and forget about everything. The very next day I spent the entire day on my bike again in attempts to straighten out what had seemed dreamlike and bring it back to reality. Over the second day, I used motocross as an escape to help clear my head, allowing it all too slowly once again be comprehended and accepted for what it’s worth.
I believe that for myself motocross and bike are just two things that help me identify who I am. At times I am a bit outspoken; I have created enemies over speaking what is on my mind. To me it is very important to express your thoughts freely and clearly so others can understand your ideas. Sometimes I am not always right but when someone brings up a valid point and backs it up I respect it. When I was younger one of my teachers Mr. Frank Burst had told me, “Having enemies is not always a bad thing. It shows that over time you have stood up for something you believe in; consequently you will be taken seriously and never as a joke.” I always try to keep that in the back of my mind during everyday life. By doing this I will never be pushed around and walked over for having a different opinion on something. I believe if you feel strongly about something you should stand up and support what it is you believe in. If you don’t have the courage to stand up and support the belief you should not have the belief in the first place. I have learned that you sometimes have to act alone before others start to follow. Most of the time if you have a unique view on something there is someone who also has the same view, and if you act first others will follow. While I am not always the most open with discussion I am never afraid to support something I believe in. If it is something on personal side I most likely will not share it with you. When it comes to personal privacy I am respectful. If I feel the need to share something from my personal life it will be known. The odds are if it is something a bit more personal than I am not willing to share you will not clue there is something relevant there to relate to.
My own personal experiences I’ve had with American identity are something you cannot teach in a classroom setting. To me they are something that is much easier to comprehend with reflection on your own experiences as you grow up. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the country and different parts of the world to experience culture first-hand. The American culture is truly unique, like no other. The American identity is full of perception and personal opinions. What your beliefs are something only you have to own up to. Not every family lives in a beautiful two-story home with a dog and a yard. Today the true American identity is becoming more of another radical. While we all have the same endpoint, individually we have our own pathways in the succession of achieving the goal at the end. Everyone takes in their own past experiences to create how they see topics differently. Psychology has proven that we all reflect back on our past experiences when it comes time to make a choice. In fear of committing the same mistake twice, we learn how use our experience to dictate our future actions.
Even though I am very proud of my Native American and Irish heritage it is not very often that I will identify as strictly that. I am sure that my ancestors before me have worked very hard of what they had become and shaped the lives of those after them, but I have been shaped by more than just my ancestors. I am one person who has been shaped by everything I am exposed to, from my heritage to those I come in contact with daily.
For me in my own experience from around the world the American lifestyle is something idolized by those who do not have it, and taken for granted by those who do have possession of it. I personally have spent the time over the years to sit down and talk with others from various parts of the world and hear their opinions about Americans as whole. The general consensus is that most do not appreciate what they have and how lucky they are. Over the well-invested time I have spent talking with others, I have heard several people mention radical gestures stating what they would do to just live the life of freedoms Americans have. I myself have been in both public and private schools going up and have had the chance to meet all different people. Some of my best friends are anything but a similar person--much more like opposites of each other. One of my best friends growing up would always tell me “you are so lucky that your parents are not divorced.” Even though I would get into fights with my parents I would not have to deal with the stress of living out of two different homes with different sets of rules. I am come to understand how lucky enough I am to have only one place I call home. Another one of my good friends came from a very wealthy family with what most would call a very expendable income. This allowed me to witness the difference between someone who had too much and someone who hardly had enough. In high school he would buy new shoes every week simply because the other pair was dirty or scuffed. At the end of senior year for graduation he was handed the keys to a new truck while the rest of us got a pat on the back from mom and dad as they said, “we are proud of you, son.” Most people would be happy with just having a car being me age, when he would not settle for a vehicle that was nothing less than what some would consider a small mortgage.
By being exposed to different extremes it has opened my eyes to how different the people of America are today but how as a whole we can come together as one country. One of my favorite questions I have always managed to ask over the years is “how would you feel if the government took away just half of your freedom and threatened your pursuit of happiness?” Oddly enough most people respond with very strong feelings of how they would feel obligated to stand against it and fight for it back. As Americans as a whole we are very fond of the privileges that we do have, even if we all do not use them to their true potential. Each individual has a unique place and without them, the country would not be the same. My own personal life experiences and those shared by others have helped develop who I have grown to become today.
Today I would identify myself as who I am and what I have become over the past 19 years. Everything from my hobbies, heritage, friends and family, personal characteristics, and past experiences have helped me find myself on what I would use to call my own personal identify. With my own personal identity discovered it can be used to contribute to another variety or blend into the personality that we have come to known as today's American Identity.
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