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You Are Significant!
There is one guaranteed thing in life: Everyone dies.
I had begun to think about my own mortality after the death of my father. We had a very close bond that no one else in the family quite understood. We could sit in each other's company for hours talking about work, life, and gripes. We would joke or just listening to music... it didn't matter what it was. We just liked to be in the same room.
I realized that I had some insight on my father that no one else in the family had. After he was gone I realized: I am his legacy.
Don't get me wrong, this is no ego trip for me. The burden of that responsibility is sometimes heavy while the memories of my father often bring tears to my eyes, not because they are sad but, because I miss the big guy so...very...much!
This legacy thing is tricky. In a way, I've done my job by having kids and continuing his blood line. That sounds archaic. Perhaps it is. I also feel like I am responsible for passing on his traditions and stories now that he's gone.
Dido's Lament - performed by Jessye Norman
How will my kids remember me?
Since dad's death I sometimes wonder what my legacy will be. How will I be remembered? Will my kids miss me as much as I miss my dad? Doubts creep into my subconscious. Why should I be remembered? Did I impact anyone enough to be held in regard?
How does my perception of self affect my daily living and do I make an impact on society?
Has my quest for a lasting legacy changed the trajectory of my life and how I treat others?
As brilliant composer, Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695) eloquently penned: "When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble in thy breast. Remember me! But, ah, forget my fate." Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas.
What is Social Psychology?
Social Psychology studies individuals in a social context including social interactions and how they emotionally and psychologically deal with any given situation. It rests a discerning eye on social perceptions and interactions to understand behavior.
As subjective as this definition is, understanding the individual generates scientific data which focuses on group dynamics and how it forms stereotypes. This data helps us understand group or mob behavior, social perceptions and expectations, conformity or aggression, and the development of prejudice within our given society.
There is no doubt that I've picked up habits and traits of my parents. Given time alone with either of them they would say, "You're just like your mother (father)."
Uh, thank you?
I was working the register at the local convenience store when a young woman walked in with her child. I recognized her immediately even though I hadn't seen her in over two years. We only knew each other casually, but I also remember she could TALK! And talk and talk and talk...
I am generally pretty terrible when it comes to remembering names but for some reason I remembered hers. When it was her turn to be rung up I smiled and said, "Hi, Maria! It's been a long time!"
She seemed surprised when she looked up at me. Okay, maybe she didn't remember me. I smiled and said, "Meredith. From the restaurant?"
She said, "I know. I just can't believe you remembered my name." She paid for her groceries, grabbed her bag with child in tow, and simply said, "Thank you for remembering me. It means a lot."
It's been another two years and I haven't seen her since but I will never forget her. In a way I have become a part of her legacy.
- The feeling that a person or thing is beneath consideration.
- Not worthy of respect or approval.
- Deserving of scorn.
- No sense of reverence.
Does familiarity breed contempt?
It doesn't take a lot to find negativity. Listen to the gossip around the watercooler, watch the news, really listen to the conversations surrounding you.
Negativity is everywhere - and if it is everywhere then we become used to it.
If we are used to it we tend to adopt it.
Is it true? Does familiarity breed contempt?
- If a person talks about that person then what are they saying about me?
- Are we trained to expect the worst from people and in turn the worst in ourselves?
- Could it be why we are confounded and pleasantly surprised when someone compliments us - or better yet - remembers us?
Is it any wonder that our self-conscious is a little paranoid?
A Single Drop
I am a single drop
in a vast body of water.
Alone I am insignificant
and vulnerable to the elements.
Too much earth will swallow me up
Too much fire will forever change me
Too much wind will scatter me about
But there is never too much water.
It strengthens me from a drop to a trickle
to a brook, to a river, to an ocean.
I am a part of something much bigger
than even I can imagine
My participation will quench the earth
I will temper a fire
and I will be the rain which touches all life.
I am but a drop
but I can move mountains.
~ M.J. Loughran
What are our Social Perceptions?
Self-perception: One's positive and negative evaluation of self is the building block to self-esteem
Perception of Other Individuals: Taking one's self-perception and projecting it onto others. In doing so we may pass judgment on good/acceptable behavior or bad/unacceptable behavior. Good or bad is subjective, vulnerable to any given situation or external factor. It can lead to a bad first impression or provoke stereotypes and labeling.
Stereotyping: The perception one associates with a group of people. To pass judgment based on categories like race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and handicaps to name a few. As human beings we are more comfortable categorizing things to make sense of our world but the negative aspect of stereotyping leads to prejudice and discrimination.
What are our Social Influences?
Aggression: Negativity is a form of aggression. We are also influenced by attacks to our personal space, frustrating situations, pollution, or anything that negatively stimulates us.
Altruism: Being empathetic toward other individuals or groups with no investment or self-interest. To give for the sake of giving.
The definition of altruism is: the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Okay, but if being altruistic makes you feel good then does true altruism exist?
Attraction and Love: As my friend would say, "Love and attraction are POWERFUL Ju-Ju." We will adjust our behavior and alter our appearance to find a partner. We consider demographics, personality, physical attraction and familiarity.
Will I Be Remembered?
When looking around at this thing called your life remember that you DO matter and your actions DO impact society. Like Maria, your insights, experiences, and traditions are passed along simply by being you - even if you don't realize it.