Ties and Freedom

Often it is the challenge of the second generation to define who they are. Some children stay close to their mother and father and teach their children to do the same. Some second generation children, however, decide to move far away and define themselves. My mother did this when I was two months old. Since then my family has lived hours from the center of my extended family and what ties have been lost to that family and community have been gained in individual freedoms which I have watched my mother enjoy. She has raised her children as she thought best, helped her new community, loved her husband, raised her animals and learned new skills all in new ways that were much different than first generation traditions.
Now as I, the third generation, observe my surroundings I see what I think are the best of three different worlds. I stay with my extended family enough to see those family and community ties, my family enough to see the values of individual freedom and choice, and then I see myself. I have the opportunity to reconnect, which is what I think is the greatest advantage of the whole process. By losing family and community ties to gain individual freedom, I can come back and reconnect new family ties and new community ties that are even more meaningful and are certainly much stronger.
Ultimately I think that we are each best when we are dissociated and free to become who we are. Sometimes families tell us who we are and it takes a long time to decide that for ourselves. But we can do it when we are supported, loved, disciplined and most of all when we are patient with ourselves. When we come full circle we not only have strong ties, beliefs and value judgements within ourselves, we then have the capacity to truly share family ties with those close to us and the community ties to those all around us. Paraphrasing Confucius, when asked how to change the world, he responded:
To change the world, you must first change your country,
To change your country, you must first change your state,
To change your state, you must first change you county,
To change your county, you must first change your community,
To change your community, you must first change your family,
To change your family, you must first change yourself.
*Note: This essay first appeared during my last Princeton Review Practice MCAT. Though I was not supposed to write in the first person (and I won’t in the future), I really enjoyed writing it.