My Sociological Autobiography
Biography is not only a set of facts and a list of life events. Spiritual growth is not less important than physical maturation or psychological development. Personality is influenced by significant overt and latent factors that determine an individual life, forming the system of moral values and ethical standards. My past life was filled with substantial events and discoveries. Family and friends helped me to know it from different sides. However, I have learned its beauty quite recently, when the significant shifts occurred in my consciousness. It happened due to several periods of life when I opened up amazing things. These matters have qualitatively affected my present life. This autobiography focuses on the exploration and disclosure of such social institutions and concepts as a volunteer, discrimination (gender and sexual), and vegetarianism. These principles have significantly changed my life by their rethink, acceptance or rejection (in the case of discrimination), making it more meaningful and harmonious.
Evolution of Consciousness through Volunteering
The experience of volunteering is the first thing I would like to share with the world. Up to 18 years, my life had been more than measured. Surrounded by comfort and care, I perceived it as something normal, which does not deserve special attention. Based on the current knowledge, I can say that I was quite an eccentric person with a strong sense of egoism. This feature helped me to receive everything best out of life, until facing, as I finally called, a parallel social reality. In fact, I just had an opportunity to explore the world through the vision of those ones, who did not accept but gave. My social activity could be estimated as extremely low at that time, considering that I did not seek to attend public events. Moreover, I preferred to communicate in a narrow circle of acquaintances. However, two years ago, in summer, my life position was changed drastically.
The troubles that fell as snow on my head began after I crashed the car because of excessive self-confidence. In addition to its repair, I had to improve my health and find a new job for summer. It was a period of continuous dissatisfaction with the surrounding reality. I always opposed myself to people and did not consider them as a part of a single functional organism (OpenStax College 18). Today, I realize that I have been the cause of dysfunctions; and my behavior has been a source of conflict in my environment. One day, I asked for help my friend Alice. She belonged to the group of people who were trying to ignore their troubles, through the support of others. She could be called a social altruist. However, at that time, she refused to meet my request as she was referring to employment within the volunteer program. She had never told about charity; thus, I was a little embarrassed. Alice planned to spend the weekend, helping the chosen orphanage. That idea was not accepted with enthusiasm. However, hoping to spend time with her, I offered my assistance. Assessing risks, Alice agreed.
I was surprised by the fact that some of the warm-hearted people continued to bring things even when we laid down the big boxes with clothes and toys in Alices old car. Their willingness to help and share something personal was not understood to me until we came to the orphanage. Alice was greeted by joyful children and caregivers. It looked like a big celebration of generosity and kindness. Probably, it was the first time when I realized my desire to do something good for neighbors, without receiving anything in respond. Thus, I felt the deepest personal satisfaction.
In America, 63 million people take part in volunteer programs in the frameworks of charitable organizations annually (Son and Wilson 658). The fact that this kind of activity has a positive psychological impact on the participant program has surprised me a lot. Volunteering has helped me to feel my importance not through wearing a mask of significance. However, the reason was related to personal help of disadvantaged children and orphans, who needed support more than any adult. Since then, I regularly have taken part in volunteer programs, feeling responsible for each action. Such practice has changed my life for better and allowed becoming a useful part of society.
Overcoming Stereotypes and Eradication of Discrimination
The next year of my life I devoted to my education and social work, as well as frequent meetings with Alice. At some point, I thought that we could make a good couple. I still believe that our relationship could have a perspective because we had a common interest and similar ideas about life. We have talked a lot about family values while agreeing that it is a foundation of healthy society (OpenStax College 313). Moreover, we had some experience with children, which brought us together. I tried to help her in every business and take on responsible work when we participated in the studying process or detailed design for volunteering. I took my role of a man-defender, who sought to create Alices comfort. However, something unpredictable happened.
I knew that Alice had pertly-worked in one of the social centers as an assistant of a specialist in psychological consulting. Once, she complained to me in despair that she had been fired because of the disclosed orientation. Alice was a lesbian who never advertised her personal preferences. It was difficult to convey the gamut of my emotions that I had to experience. I was disappointed and angry because of my hope to build a relationship with her. Nevertheless, I never felt sympathy for such kinds of people. It was a new experience for me, as I had a discordant attitude. I suffered from inner conflict, trying to accept the opened fact. For many years, I have believed that homosexual people have mental disabilities and are unreliable persons. Perhaps, it could be passive discrimination. The reason was that I felt discontent when observed such persons attempts to protect their rights for marriage free behavior in public, which were actively promoted and protected throughout the civilized world (Council of Europe 9).
Alice was consistent with my ideas of the women's gender role. She was feminine, kind, diplomatic, and compliant. At the same time, Alice showed situational hardness and could take an initiative at the right time. It was hard to imagine her in a couple with a girl. Thus, subconsciously I refused to accept the truth. The inner disturbance pushed me away from her, but she was my friend. After analyzing everything we have done together, and considering her selfless assistance to children from the orphanage, I convinced myself of the following fact. People with the same-sex orientation do not differ from others with traditional preferences. Moreover, I felt sympathy, knowing that Alice could have difficulties with the creation of the family, she had dreamed of and the search for a new job. Unfortunately, in spite of the liberal views in the American society, numerous people are still in captivity of prejudices. However, I have understood that homosexuality is not a disease of diagnosis. It is a natural expression of human orientation and should not be observed as a stumbling block on the way to a happy life (American Psychological Association). The described situation has led me to undertake social support for Alice and other people with non-tradition orientation, who could not find a suitable job in our area. It has helped to protect the honor of my friend and strengthen our friendship, which was invaluable to me.
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Revaluation of Life through Vegetarianism
The acquaintance with vegetarianism became the next step on the path to my spiritual development. My friendship with Alice never focused on discussing such issue, although I knew that she was a vegetarian. It was her conscious choice, which always surprised me. My desire to adopt vegetarianism as an ideology arose when I was resting with relatives outside the city. There I witnessed the attempts of farmers to push a cow in a truck. It had to be taken to a slaughterhouse, as I found out later. The frightened animal fiercely resisted and bellowed. Later, Alice told me that the cows had a subconscious fear and a presentiment of danger. It struck me to the core. Obviously, it was another turning point in my life.
Vegetarianism has opened for me new possibilities of self-knowledge. I started to live in harmony with the environment and the realization that I was not involved in any violence. It became a significant factor for me. Gradually, I talked about my observations in the measures of my peer community to find the support of those ideas. My ethical concepts have acquired a new sense and a logical conclusion. Moreover, vegetarianism reduces the risk of diabetes and cancer bringing not only moral advantages (Human Research Council). Finally, I have understood the reason for most of my problems, which were rooted in the subconscious. I have realized that it is impossible to be partly tolerant and sympathetic and perform good deeds partly as well. If human kindness and protection extend to other people, then it should be available for animals given the variety of food. To date, I have practically excluded animal products from my diet. There are times when I return to my previous eating habits, but it happens more rarely. For this reason, I hope to become a decent vegetarian in the nearest future.
Theoretical Perspectives of the Autobiographic Analysis
I have reviewed the past few years of my life from the perspective of structural functionalism described by Spenser, Comte, Durkheim, and others while considering my place in society and the significance of mutual assistance. Thanks to the life events description, I have realized that society is a harmonious body. For its healthy functioning, every person needs to get rid of laziness, selfishness, indifference, and prejudice. Moreover, I have appealed to the theory of conflict, describing deep feelings associated with Alice. The reluctance to accept her homosexuality has made me feel anguish. Nevertheless, I was able to overcome doubts and eradicate the beginnings of discrimination.
Friendship with Alice has become the essential example of the interactionism concept implementation that focuses on personal and social changes happening under the influence of interpersonal relations. The analysis also raises some questions of ethics, which undoubtedly affect the social position and determine a place of an individual in society. Thus, the autobiographical analysis is a multi-level study that shows my spiritual and psychological evolution with a link to social determinants.
The autobiography has shown that life events are closely intertwined and have an impact on each other. An individual growing up at all levels depends on the environment and persons that teach us in the distinct life circumstances. I have learned to support the dependent ones, to understand people who are different from me, and to feel solidarity with all living matters. The practice of volunteering has given me an opportunity to feel my importance to society. Vegetarianism has allowed exploring my possibilities increasingly and to realize that kindness and love should be extended not only to other people but also to life in all its manifestations. The adoption of Alices homosexuality has let me take a fresh look at the friendship and appreciate the benefits of differences. Thus, I was able to achieve today's heights by the willingness and desire to take the new positive changes.