These are the perspectives that affect us first from birth. Also known as “Significant Others”, these are people that matter to us such as an individual’s parents (mother and father), siblings and caregivers. In some families, particular others include extended relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles who live in the same household as the infant (Wood & Schweitzer, 2006, p.65).
In this social perspective, my parents are one of the biggest influences of my self-concept. Both of my parents nurtured us with love and Filipino values but they were also very strict when it came to discipline. They were both consistent when it came to disciplining me and my younger brother. They were also strict when it came to education. Another particular other that had a big influence in my self-concept were my grandparents on both sides. Both sides of my grandparents highly valued education. I remember that my grandfather (on my mother’s side) would always tell me, back when I was only 4 years old, that the knowledge you learn through education is the most expensive thing that you could ever own. Being a curious four year old, I asked him, “Why? And he then replied, “Because out of all the riches you could ever have, anybody can steal anything from you except the knowledge you attained.” I didn’t really quite understood what he meant back then until now and every time I’m about to fall off course, I would always think back on what he told me before and it gives me the support to keep pushing on with my education.
This is a secondary perspective where society influences our self-concept of how we internalize the society we grow up in and as to how we share that perspective as a social community. With this perspective, an individual is endorsed by a collection of rules, roles and attitudes through the community. In the western culture; researchers have identified this perspective into four elements that are central to an individual’s personal identity (Wood & Schweitzer, 2006, p.67). The four elements are: Race and Ethnicity, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Socioeconomic Status (Andersen & Collins, 1992; James, 1999; Wood, 1995b, 1996; Wood & Schweitzer, 2006, p.67).
The cultural background that I come from is Filipino and my sexual orientation is straight female. I was born and raised in Philippines until I was the age of 14. Exactly on my 14th birthday was the day my family and I landed in Vancouver, Canada as our port of entry. We then flew to Calgary that same day and have been living here since. So basically, most of the things I learned growing up were based on Filipino culture and values up until I turned 14.
To be a female, I wasn’t allowed to go naked in front of people, especially when I was reaching puberty. Females are not allowed to ask a guy out nor allowed to be out late at night except if they are with close relatives such as their cousins, grandparents or parents. In olden days, arranged marriages were common and considered normal but now, it is very rare. Young adults are allowed to date with the permission from the female’s parents. I was raised to dress in a presentable manner. Premarital sex is considered a sin in most religions especially in Christianity. About 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 10% are a mix of other religions.
In regards to socioeconomic status, I would say that my parents are of above average status. My parents are both professional graduates and they are both working parents. My mom graduated with a magna cum laude in Business Management degree and my dad with an Engineering degree. Even though life was always a struggle in my country, they were able to provide me and my brother the basic needs and other important things in a practical way. For example, both my parents always managed to put us in a private school but never brought us up to love buying expensive brand name clothing nor spoiled us into getting what we wanted. My parents also managed to set aside for our college funds. They took us on family outings from time to time especially on summer and holiday breaks. Our home was custom designed by my dad and it was a very decent one. My parents brought us up with strict discipline and always practicality in mind. I never really knew how lucky I was back then compared to other kids growing up until now.
In Philippines, education is highly valued. The passing grade was a minimum of 75% in every class a student took. However, even with a minimum passing mark, it was already a big concern and was always frowned upon close relatives, most especially by parents. Even the teachers would also get worried as well because a low mark meant it reflected poorly on the way they teach. Students were always expected to excel well in school. To excel in an academically well-known school meant a better future and the higher the mark meant a highly qualified resume. I remember one time I got a 75% in my quarterly report card in one class and I can still vividly remember my mom very upset at me for getting such a low mark. My brother and I were always encouraged to maintain a minimum mark of 85% or higher. Anything lower and we would almost feel like the pressure was on us even more.
Coming to Canada was a big change and I had to re-establish many things. I had to make new friends, speak better English and I had to learn how to dress accordingly to the weather. I also learned to adapt my clothing style. When it came to school, I was so shocked that the passing mark here was 50%. At first, I refused to go below the 75% mark but after awhile, I realized that I was only stressing myself out for nothing and before I knew it, I learned to adapt to it. It wasn’t that easy though because I remember that the first few marks that I got in grade 10 that were below 75%, I literally embarrassingly cried. I also noticed that a lot of girls in my high school I went to asked the guys out that they liked the most. This is probably the only thing that I didn’t adapt fully because first of all, when it came to liking a guy, I would turn all red and hide away from them and if I really did wanted to go out with them, it took me a lot of mental brainwashing to tell myself that “I could do it”. Also, I became to be quite a rebel back in high school and I felt like I was going through that stage where I wasn’t sure as to what I really wanted to do after high school. I felt so out of place and lost. By grade 11, I hung out with the wrong crowd (partying every night) for the first semester and had to work twice as hard getting my marks up in second semester. I then had to work even harder in grade 12 to make sure I graduated and thankfully, I did!
Our socioeconomic status was a big struggle as well especially for my parents. Everything was reversed and my parents had to start from scratch all over again plus an additional three kids to feed (Ages 14, 10 and a 5 year old recently diagnosed with Autism). However, they both still stood strong when it came to us going to school and having a career. This was one thing that they never hesitated on spending money on. They both worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices. To them, owning a home seemed so far. It took us 5 years with long hard work from them to finally be able to buy a home built from scratch. I even remember purchasing our very first pre-owned mini-van that (I swear) was as old as I was that time and broke down two to three times during a very cold winter season.
Looking back at what my parents did and all the obstacles they had to overcome, I truly appreciate all the things they have done. I never understood the hardships that they had to go through until I got married and had a son of my own. I look up to my parents’ hard work and because of this, I would like to be able to achieve greater things in life through hard work and dedication just like what my parents did and even until now, they still work really hard for things that they want to achieve.
Haig, J., MacMillan, V., & Raikes, G. (2010). Cites & sources (Revised 3rd ed.). Toronto: Nelson.
Wood, J., & Schweitzer, A. (2006). Everyday encounters: An introduction to interpersonal communication (3rd Canadian ed.). Toronto: Thomson Nelson.