Identity formation

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Identity is what makes an individual different from others. On the other hand, identity formation is a process in which a person undergoes to attain particular character traits that make one different from the rest. The paper, therefore, is going to analyze the stages that one goes through in attaining his or her identity as far as education/career is concerned.

CAREER/EDUCATION

IDENTITY ACHIEVEMENT

At this stage, an individual has already undergone different crisis processes and has come up with a suitable way of resolving it. Once they have made their own decisions and a way of resolving them, there’s feeling of self-acceptance, ability to define themselves and engaging in various commitments (Cote, 2015). The environment that surrounds an individual, in this case, has a greater impact on identity formation, for instance; if one has to choose a career to pursue in college, then this has to do with what an individual likes the most.

The reason behind this is that there is a great fear that a person feels between losing interest and familiarizing with something new. For example, a teenage joining college or university may totally fail to choose a career but may further inquire from either professionals, friends or even family members (Côté & Levine, n.d.). At some point, an individual maybe upset on the various suggestion given but eventually there will be no choice rather than to go for what they feel will make their lives comfortable. That is, they undergo more processes to satisfaction. For instance, a person looking for a job would first look for other routes like going for internships, interviews and so on before identifying the right career that one will find it interesting.  One may be from a background of farmers and since this he or she is used to do, then one will slowly develop an interest in farming thus nurturing an individual career from that particular perspective. In this regard, the adolescent are expected to accept and respective individual identity and what one really wants as far as career/education is concerned.

To conclude on this aspect of identity achievement, it is clear that individuals encounter a lot of challenges to know their real identity. That is, they struggle to keep the balance in their present identity even if it’s more complicated.  However, for this stage to be achieved, a person must undergo identity crisis (identity moratorium), diffusion and foreclosure thus being in position of self-realization

IDENTITY FORECLOSURE

According to James Mercia, adolescents at this stage have unknowingly accepted the values and responsibilities practiced  by their family members, friends, and the society without further questioning on what they really want to be in  future. This happens when an individual believe they know who they are but have not achieved their alternatives yet.  Therefore, an individual tries to be the person they are not, in simple terms, identity foreclosure is not true because one pretends to be like an individual in identity achievement whereby the values, beliefs, careers interests, sexual orientation is being achieved to reach the identity of their own way. Basing on education, a good example of this is when a child pretends to be the way the parents would like them to be in future such as a nurse, teacher and so on than furthering their own career. Since these teens do not know what they want in life, automatically they will do as per the parents wish due to lack of true identity (Identity, 2002). But as time goes on, they realize that they wanted something else apart from what they initially believed. At this point, it calls for greater attention for a parent to advise their children to follow their true identity even when it is opposite of what they wish, so long as it does not endanger them. The stage, therefore, prepares the child to face the future with courage for they will be satisfied by choice made.

IDENTITY MORATORIUM

Identity moratorium is the opposite of identity foreclosure. An individual, in this case, has begun or is actively involved in experiencing oneself without any commitment. The aspect is considered important stage in that one is able to know who they are without getting any confusion from parents, close friends or relatives. Many psychologists’ advice parents to give their children their own time so as to figure out their identity. As a result, they will be in the position of making an informed decision that will guide their lives towards their respective career.

Parents can play a big role in supporting their teens at this stage in different ways, example; they can encourage them in adventurous moratorium through going for a trip across the country or giving them some free time apart from going to college or workforce thus enabling them to have adequate time to learn all that life means. At this period, an adolescent does not need any persuasion and control from the parents because they feel that this is the only time for them to decide what they want. In addition, they may feel appreciated when the parents understand them and start to build a sense of trust and move together throughout the journey (Satterthwaite, Martin & Roberts, 2006).  For one to achieve their identity, they must be able to create a positive mindset about their life. This will help in tackling any obstacles throughout the present and other stages of life. Therefore, although it is not a must that a person undergoes all the stages, but each stage is considered useful and must be given great attention and support where necessary.

IDENTITY DIFFUSION

This is one of the four identity statuses where one has not fully realized who he or she really is and one is not ready to know or pursue their true identity, and there is no any crisis (identity moratorium). To develop and achieve their identity, they will need to undergo a series of choices and commitments (Satterthwaite, Martin & Roberts, 2006). A good example is when a teacher asks the students to name their career goals, but some are unable to give name them because they have never thought of such questions and are unable to give an appropriate answer. In addition, most teens feel isolated at this stage because they are not moving in the same direction with others. That is, the stage is majorly made up of different characteristics like lack of thinking, avoidance of issues and commitments among others. Sometimes a person may experience identity diffusion when this happens, it is known as borderline personality disorder which is characterized by lack of true self. Mostly, children and young teens are the one affected at this stage such as religion, occupation and cultural beliefs. This is normal in personality development in growing children. Therefore, through the four stages, an individual will be in a position to timely identify his or her identity thus being in a position of making an informed decision that will boost individual career/education.

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  1. Cote, J. (2015). Identity Formation. London: Taylor and Francis.
  2. Côté, J., & Levine, C. Identity, formation, youth, and development.
  3. Identity. (2002). Mahwah, N.J.
  4. Satterthwaite, J., Martin, W., & Roberts, L. (2006). Discourse, resistance and identity formation. Stoke on trent: Trentham Books.
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