"Solitude is dangerous to reason without being favorable to virtue. Remember that solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious and possibly mad... it's very addictive."-Samuel Johnson
"Erikson stages of development, emphasizes the socio-cultural determinants of development and presents them as eight stages of psycho-social conflicts that all individuals must overcome or resolve successfully in order to adjust well into the environment. According to Erikson’s theory we all encounter a certain crisis that contributes to our psycho-social growth at each of Erikson’s stages of psycho-social development. Whenever we experience such a crisis, we are left with no choice but to face it and think of ways to resolve it. Failure to overcome such a crisis may lead to a significant impact on our psycho-social development"….. (Eikson's Theory of Psycho-Social Development.)
Identity is rooted in all aspects of being. It was known before hand but remains and even more prevalent lesson throughout service. The most common faced issues throughout service is race and gender, and second the 6th stage of psycho-social development Intimacy vs. Isolation. The first challenge is the expectation of what is expected of you based on Gender, the cultural norms in my country service have the expectation of women as care-takers, cooking, and cleaning, a very domesticated and “traditional” expectation of women. Then as a person of color, there is a sense of clueless-ness because it may be the first time, a Guatemalan has interacted with a person of color. Here there isn’t the same baggage of the current racial and political tensions currently propelling many debates in the states. This could be a positive aspect because they don’t have a pre-conceived notion on what to think, in a way through my presence they can form their own ideas. And so when you have Americans come from all different backgrounds it opens a lot of discussions and something new to think about.
Referring back to Erikson’s 6th stage of development, while I am also busy throughout the day with class, or various activities in the town center with work partners, & adjusting to constant change, there is also down time. It is in these moments in which your inner demons remind you that they are here to stay until you face them. In downtime, things comes up in your mind that you had often forgotten about. Nostalgia, something about being in different space and the change of pace.
Making friends in site can be difficult because of the cultural, gender, assumptions, and expectations mentioned above. I have also found the solitude as the greatest gift and the biggest curse. Wanting friends is an important part to your emotional well-being but the struggle of not being able to make them is another.
This issue has come up time, and time again. An inner beast, difficult to tame. In relation to Erikson’s theory, such an issue is an old wound that has been reactivated. Specifically, in personal and romantic relationships, the ego is highly activated because it is an aspect where we hold the most wounding. We cannot heal anything that we do not feel or see. The uncomfortable feeling has to come to the surface for you to grow beyond it. But how do you grow beyond it?
By reclaiming the love from within….
Dia de San Valentin
Valentine’s day is communely celebrated in Guatemala. It is more of a big thing among the jovenes than for families.
In the task of reclaiming the love from within once again. This year for Valentine’s day, the mantra, “I am the love.” Expressing this love while coming out of the depths of solitude and loneliness was challenging when I did not feel love around me. Learning on how to appreciate, and forgive yourself is no small feat. Even more difficult realization is, I cannot give anything I do not have. It takes tremendous strength to continue to recognize what it is you can offer as we continually grapple with expectations of what a volunteer is “supposed to be.”
This Year, I bought the students cake and practiced yoga with them. In the presence of some parents who just stared while we stretched. My students constantly express how much they enjoy yoga, (some more than others). Even though, I am unsure they fully understand it or me with my broken Spanglish.
Then there are the moments in which I feel the love, when a motivated students calls because they have a question about something, they did not quite understand in class. I feel and see the love when see the students from last year in the market, and when I am walking down the street. I am stopped and greeted by them with a hug and a smile. I feel the love when my host cousins stop by to visit me and check in to see how I am doing. I feel the love then, that makes me feel the warmth and the short-term effects of my work here. I can connect back to the bigger picture and goal.
The solar eclipse from January 31st- Febuary 15th occurred. Did you feel it? Everyone tends to feel these aspects differently. This can bring up mixed emotions, forgotten memories, new beginnings, and also a time for healing. As inner demons begin to show up I think back to when these aspect of life weren’t so trivial. Adulting is so brutal. Something about the 27-30 age range makes you feel like you have get your life together instantenously. You are faced with the challenging aspects of yourself.
Still learning about astrology, I recently learned of the intense affects of venus and saturn. Which occurred after the eclipse. Such transits, tend to bring up certain things you thought you had dealt with pop up: fear, anxiety, insecurities, and judgement in particular to intimacy and relationships. The only thing you can do is to take a step back and get real with yourself because, “one day all the love you have given away will find it’s way back to you.”
- Source: Erik Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.psychologynoteshq.com/erikerikson/