Anvi Sharma

“I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”, is a powerful statement written by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley. It unleashes the cruciating question of “Who Am I?” that creates a void inside every human being. 

The truth is, our perception of ourselves is crazily distorted. Our identity, in the modern world, is molded by things like labels, norms, stereotypes, and above all: Our desire to fit in and the worry of others opinions on us. 

Of course, numerous studies have shown the connection between those with more active social connections and good health, so it is not our fault to feel attracted to social acceptance, however, no matter how hard you try, true satisfaction can only be achieved when you block out all the noise, and choose the actions you know are right for you.

In the course of this article, I don’t want to tell you all what to do, because, to be perfectly honest, I am far from achieving it myself. My decisions on what to wear, what classes to take, and even how to act are all influenced by my worry of what others will think of me. Therefore, through the course of this article, I want to simply explain why it is a problem. I want to introduce the major issues of gender stereotypes as an example to how much our self-doubt can affect our world, which has been covered with a coat of allodoxaphobia.  

Let’s start with the initial topic— Gender Stereotypes. Even today, fields like the STEM field and Leadership positions heavily lack female workers. In fact, women make up only 28% of STEM. But why? When going about solving this issue, companies and organizations often look outwards: putting companies at fault for their lack of gender diversity. And while the workforce does have a heavy bias against female workers(women’s annual earnings were less than 83% of men’s in 2020 with an even wider pay gap for women of color, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics), it is also important to look from the other side. Why are women not willing to be more active in fields like STEM and Leadership? The answer: gender stereotypes and the fear of others’ judgment in a field where there are such few female idols. Researchers from the  University of Alabama elaborated on this anxiety, focusing on the gender stereotypes across high school social groups, and found that any interest in STEM classes was contradicted by young girl’s feelings of belonging amongst other social groups. 

Think about it. If our mental fear can hurt global issues to this scale, imagine how much it hurts us individually. Imagine how many minutes of our lives are consumed with self-doubt. Imagine how many hours are consumed with comparison.

Now, imagine what we could have done with these minutes, hours, and days. Imagine how many more memories we could create, imagine how many problems we could solve, imagine how much we could help those around us.  It is only when we put it into perspective like this can we understand that to empower the world around us, we must empower ourselves. 

Works Cited:

  1. Shetty, Jay R. Think Like a Monk. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2020.
  1. Researchers from University of Alabama Detail New Studies and Findings in the Area of Social Psychology and Education (Gender Stereotypes and Belonging Across High School Girls’ Social Groups: Beyond the Stem Classroom).” Women’s Health Weekly, 24 Feb. 2022, p. 496. Gale OneFile: High School Edition, Accessed 13 Mar. 2023.
  1. “With friends like these …” Good Housekeeping, vol. 252, no. 1, Jan. 2011, p. 45. Gale OneFile: High School Edition, Accessed 8 Mar. 2023.

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