This paper explores my various experiences with this stage that I have had already in my young life. This story is very personal and was difficult for me to write, however, I also found it beneficial for me to write it. There are also several sources to show how these experiences can impact a young person’s life and how people can deal with these situations. This paper examines my progress on Erikson’s sixth stage of development, intimacy versus isolation. Erikson’s sixth stage is all about figuring out who you want to be around and have in your life.
The previous stage is all about finding yourself, while this one is finding other people whose personalities are compatible with yours. This is what my paper focuses on and it also deals with how you can understand and except the people around you even when you disagree. Erikson’s sixth stage of psychosocial development, intimacy versus isolation, is one of the most important stages in a person’s life, and although the official age group is supposed to be from 18-35, it affects almost everyone. I’m 16 years old, and while I’m young, I’ve already started to experience quite a bit of this stage for myself. First I will start by explaining a little of my past so you can better understand how learning about this stage truly hits home for someone like me.
As long as I can remember, I have been much more mature than my peers and fellow class mates, at least in high school. This is simply because I had to grow up much faster then most kids my age, as I had many “tragedies” early on in my life. I say “tragedies” because I don’t remember anything of this time period, and this is how my parents explained it to me not to long ago. My parents refer to this a repressed memory because those occur when ” Something shocking happens, and the mind pushes it into some inaccessible corner of the unconscious” (Loftus, 1993). When I was in first grade, my father got extremely sick and went in the hospital for an infection. During this time I bonded and got very close with my first grade teacher because many times I had to stay late or go in before school so my mom could go to the hospital and be with my dad.
During his time at the hospital he had many surgeries and quite a few nights my family and I slept overnight at the hospital, normally because my mom being a head nurse was aware of all the things that could go wrong and worried. Most of my time though was spent with my first grade teacher learning about dinosaurs and playing sports. Because of this my teacher and I quickly became very close friends and she is one of the most influential people who changed my life even to this day. After six months in hospital, my dad had one final surgery and had his big toe amputated. I remember I was so mad at him because he said he was going to be fine and he wasn’t and we didn’t talk for weeks.
Looking back I know that it was selfish, but even now I do wish we could have had the chance to play basketball more because now we’ll never have that chance. Two weeks after this happened my first grade teacher went into the hospital, she had leukemia and only six months to live. I was kept in the dark about her having cancer and her time left, however, I knew something was wrong, and everyday after school my mom took me to her hospital room and I sat and talk with her for hours. This went on for about until the end, she lived for a day over six months and a week later was her funeral. I was the only child other than her own permitted to attend and many of the other teachers from my school were outraged that my parents let me go and see death at such a young age, but, my parents said they had never hidden the hard stuff from me and they thought I had the right to know. Within the next two months my two dogs die that I loved and my grandfather who was probably the best male-figure in my life.
At this point in my life I had never felt so alone, my father was either at work or too exhausted to talk, my sister was utterly consumed by her school work and my mother was just trying to make ends meet. I had been raised christian, however, I was very mad, mad at the world, and mad at god. I didn’t understand how God could do such terrible things to good people who had done nothing but good. My mom took me to our priest and we had a three hour talk about what happened recently to me, and since that day I have never been in a church. This is the time in my life where I was truly isolated and for a long time I stayed this way. I don’t remember exactly when or how I got out for this stage but, around 8th grade when I started playing basketball for my Jr.
/Sr. High School is when I starting talking to a lot of people again. Basketball being a team sport really helped me open up again because I had to talk and trust my teammates on and off the court and I became friends with them to this day. In Fact many of them play on the Varsity team with me now aswell so this helps to continue to strengthen our friendship. Later in life this will also most likely help me as “(people) who rated sports as highly important to them in high school were less likely to have prolonged periods of depression” (Lutz, 2009). Not only did I quickly become friends with the players on my team but also the coaches.
The coach for middle school and Jv., that I played on my freshman year, are very young and so while I still look up to them and respect them they also soon became my friends. The Varsity Coach, Tony Riopelle, is a different story however. He is your typical over the top athletic coach who starts yelling and cursing over nothing and everything. In games and especially practice he can be very intense, but, he’s normally right and he pushes us to get better in ways we never thought possible.
This year, as a Junior, I was made a captain of our team which meant a lot to me because this wasn’t a title given to the best player, though, I am one of the best on our team, but rather it was chosen by the team and they voted for me and one of my best friends, Sam Lack. For me, this shows just how far I’ve come in a few years time, from not wanting to talk to people and being a jerk to everyone, to being well respected and admired. It means a lot that my team trusts me enough to put me in that level of responsibility and believes that I will make the right decisions at the right times. Even though I have become a lot more friendly and social, I still maintain a lot of the qualities I had during my time of isolation. Firstly, I am normally extremely arrogant, especially when it comes to school and grades. Only recently have I become confident in other areas, like sports and romantic relationships.
I’ve always been smart, and I’ve almost always known it. There was a short time in elementary school and early middle school where I thought I wasn’t as smart as my sister and I felt like I was letting my family down because I wasn’t getting as good of grades as she was. This didn’t last too terribly long though because I quickly realized that she studied all the time to get 100% on every test and I could take the same test and get a 94% without ever looking at the notes. This is probably where the arrogance comes from, because it makes me feel especially smart because I rarely have to study to get the grades I want. However, I also know that this doesn’t have to do with me being a genius so much as me being a very strong auditory learner, so also long as I pay attention in class, I’m pretty well off. One of the other characteristics I developed during isolation and still have to this day is my religious beliefs.
I was raised Christian, I was baptised, but I became atheist. This is because in my opinion religion doesn’t make sense and science has disproved religion over and over again and anyone who thinks its rational isn’t thinking rational, but thinking emotionally. I used to go around picking fights on religion because I thought people who believed in God were ignorant and irrational. Now, however, I try to avoid talking about it whenever possible because people have such strong opinions on it that it really just gets people upset and doesn’t change their opinions at all. Honestly, I wish I could be Christian and believe in God, because I think it would be comforting to know there is a God.
It would be nice to know that everything you do matters on a grander scale and that even if everything is going bad that there is someone or something out there you can appeal to. That being said most people say, “then why not you just go back to church” but I can’t because it doesn’t make sense to me and probably never will. Thanks to my girlfriend however, I am much more open to talking about it then I ever was with anyone I’ve ever cared about. Lexie, my girlfriend of three months, has helped me in a lot of ways, more then I thought possible and probably more then she will ever know. I know that we haven’t been dating very long and were probably crazy but she’s the only girl I’ve ever dated where I truly care about how she feels and what shes doing and I just want to see her happy.
In fact, I was going to write the paper about someone else, but she is the one that convinced me to write it about myself. I’ve been become more intimate with her then I thought was possible. We have tons of inside jokes that no one else would think is funny. We act extremely silly at times and not to be too conceded but everyone says were the cutest couple. Most importantly though is that I can tell her anything. The fact that I can put my trust in her absolutely and not worry about her hating me for thinking something or feeling a certain way is just amazing.
I’m very lucky to have someone that I can trust completely and I’m so glad she feels the same way. During my isolation stage I almost stopped talking to my parents completely. Minus the limited interaction at the dinner table about meaningless things we hardly talked at all, I did my thing and they did theirs. I know now that it wasn’t because they didn’t care, but they were constantly busy and every time they would try to talk to me I would just blow them off. Shortly after I joined basketball I started talking to them more, not a lot, but it was impossible not to because when they’re driving me to and from practice and games everyday it’s hard not to talk to them.
Slowly I started talking to my dad more and more because after all that time of us not talking, he didn’t know what to say and I just didn’t feel like saying anything at all, but we talked more about sports then anything. When my family started doing stuff again like playing board games or going out to dinner is when we really started talking again. While this did start us talking again I feel like the things we talked about at this point were trivial stuff that didn’t really matter like the weather and the news, nothing ever beneath the surface. It was around this point when I really started to bond with my mom and talk to her about stuff that was going on in my life, however, I still didn’t talk with my dad. It wasn’t until this past year that I’ve really gotten close to my dad and once again I really have to give a lot of this credit to Lexie because she is the one who encouraged me to talk to him more.
Now I can honestly say that I love my mom and my dad, not just because they’re my parents and I have to but because they’re good people and they mean a lot to me and have helped me though a lot. My sister and I have always had a odd relationship in that we either get along really well sometimes, and the other times were at each others throats. Ever since we were kids we would always argue over everything and nothing. I remember she would always boss me around like she was my mother and treated me like a child, being two and a half years older then me, and expected me to act like an adult. I would always get yelled at by my parents because they listened to her and not me so I quickly stopped arguing and just learned to ignore both my parents and my older sister.
The last two years however, we have grown a lot closer and now that she is gone to college I was we had had more time to really understand each other. We still talk nearly every day about what is going on in each other’s lives but, were never going to be as close as we could been if I hadn’t been so walled off when I was younger. Three years ago, when my father lost his job, we had to move out of the house we were renting into my grandma’s house with her and my great aunt. The distance traveled wasn’t very far, so we could still go to the same school, yet, our lives changed greatly. My mother and father took the master bedroom leaving me and my grandmother in one guest room and my great aunt in the other, while my sister had to sleep in a pull out bed in the computer room.
As you could probably assume six people, five adults and me, in a same three bedroom house wasn’t the ideal situation. There was hardly any privacy and I couldn’t say anything to anyone without the entire house hearing about it. Sharing a bedroom with my grandmother, we got very close pretty quickly. Her and I have very similar opinions and pretty much everything except religion, however she understands why I feel the way I do, so we got along fairly well. The only time we really argued is when I, being short tempered, would get annoyed when she would ask me something several times in one day. Slowly I developed the state that I am in now in that I try and realize that she is old and that she can be forgetful but it’s not her fault so just try and not get annoyed.
Out for everyone in my life, she has helped me with my patience the most, especially with people that i care about. Overall, I can say that I have overcome my early isolation and now have intimate relationships with my different people, which I am glad I have. After all, “the essence of being human (is) in relation to others” (McGraw, 2010) and if you can’t do that then it’s hard to truly live. If someone had asked me two years ago if I wanted to be close to my family I would have told them no, that I didn’t care, but the simple fact is that I cared a lot and now that I have those ties, I don’t want to go back. It’s amazing how much my relationship with my parents is stronger than ever and I actually feel like I can trust them and tell them stuff about my life. My Coaches have pushed me and made me both a better player and a better person just by playing basketball and holding me accountable for my mistakes.
I can actually talk to my sister now without getting into a fight over who’s right and who’s wrong because we can now stand each other. My grandmother was also an important influence in my life, even though she drives me crazy sometimes I love her would help her in anyway I could. Most of these huge life changes would not be possible if it wasn’t for the basketball team and Lexie. Both have been there for me completely ever since they have walked into my life and I could not be more grateful for their continuous support. It’s sad that when I try to think back to my childhood, I only get bits and pieces, but mostly blanks, however, I happy now that I have those bonds with other people and that I and Intimate, so to speak, with these people.
References Loftus, Elizabeth F. (1993). The reality of repressed memories. American Psychologist, Vol 48(5), 518-537. McGraw, John G. (2010).
Intimacy and Isolation. Reference and Research Book News. Lutz, Gene M., Cornish, Disa L., Gunnerman, Melvin E., & Ralston, Margaret.
(2009). Impact of Participation in High School Extracurricular Activities on Early Adult Life Experiences: A Study of Iowa Graduates. The Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union.