Leshaun’s Personal Portrait of Development

Basically, each individual has his/her own way in life but, nevertheless, all people undergo similar stages of the development, which led them from the birth to maturity. As for me, I should say that I am not an exception and gradually I acquired essential social skills, get integrated in my social environment and now I can estimate that my personality is basically shaped and, whether it is good or bad, it is the result of my internal development as well as numerous external influences that affected the development of my personality. In this respect, I should say that in the course of my personal development I was naturally influenced by my social environment, especially my peers, neighborhood, and, naturally my family. At the same time, it is quite interesting now to look back at my personal development and analyze my progress stage by stage, using Erick Erickson developmental theory and Lawrence Kohlberg’s developmental model of moral development.
First of all, I should say that I can hardly remember the first months of my life and a couple of years, but, nevertheless, taking into consideration my knowledge in physiology and psychology and using Erickson’s developmental theory I should say that, as any other person, I started my life with the acquisition of the first and most important at this stage of the development skills and qualities. To put it more precisely, the first stage of my development was closely related to my natural need in nutrition and ample support of my parents. At this stage my senses started to develop rapidly and I acquired the information about the surrounding world being totally dependent on my parents. No wonder Erickson defines this stage as oral-sensory since I started to perceive the surrounding world using all my senses being unable to perceive it in the same way I do now, but, nonetheless, it was at this stage when the trust to my parents was probably developed because, taking into consideration my position within the first year of my life, my parents was the only people that I was totally dependent on and this dependence probably shaped my trust to them. However, the opposite of the trust, mistrust should be also developed at this stage since I learned what may hurt me, for instance, and thus became more careful and more mistrustful to the surrounding world, which actually could be quite dangerous if I trust totally dominated in my consciousness.
According to Erickson, the second stage of development is supposed to contribute to the development of my autonomy. In fact, the period from 1 to 3 is also quite vague to me and I cannot really recollect this time but still it was at this stage when I actually my first step, both literally and figuratively speaking, in my life. To put it more precisely, I was not so dependent on my parents as I was at the first stage of the development but my “freedom” was still quite limited. Nevertheless, I could speak about certain autonomy since I could discover the surrounding world partially on my own. For instance, I started walking and, therefore, I could walk and discover new things, my senses also developed progressively while my knowledge about the surrounding world grew enormously due to the use of all senses in my activities.
However, I started to demonstrate some initiative on the third stage of my development which is not so vague as previous two stages but my recollection about my life from 3 to 6 are not as clear as about the following stages. Nevertheless, I should say that it was at this period when I became interested in the surrounding world and in my own identity. In a way, this period may be referred to what Kohlberg’s defines as self-interest orientation when the question “what’s in it for me?” was really important to me (Shaffer, 2004). I attempted to ask as many questions and learn as much about the surrounding world as I could. Even though I was still highly dependent on my parents it was the stage when my independence started to develop for I could not simply perceive the surrounding world but interpret it in my own, subjective way, though I should admit that my perception was, to a significant extent, defined by my family, i.e. my parents.
The following six years that comprise the fourth stage, according to Erickson’s developmental theory, I remember quite well. It was the time when I was very interesting in different activities, I made new friends at school, I paid a lot of attention to my study, but parents as well as adults at large, still remained the highest authority to me (Crain, 1985). In this respect, it is possible to correlate this stage to Kohlberg’s interpersonal accord and conformity stage, when I focused my efforts on receiving my parents’ praise as well as that of other adults that were significant to me. By the way, at this stage new adults appeared in my life, i.e. teachers who also were very important to me at that period. This is probably why I was so industrious and attempted to be good in order to meet their expectations and I should say that I remained quite obedient at this stage and was oriented on the maintenance of the existing order. This is why it is probably to speak about the overlapping of three stages, i.e. the stage of obedience and punishment orientation, my first efforts to find interpersonal accord and conformity, and authority and social-order maintaining, according to Kohlberg’s model (Crain, 1985), in one stage, according to Erickson’s theory.
The adolescence was the most difficult stage of my personal development and I am not unique in this respect. In fact, I perfectly felt that I am changing somehow and often I was extremely dissatisfied with my actions, my appearance, even my parents, which just a couple of years ago, were the highest authority to me. At the same time, the fifth stage of my development was also accompanied by the actual shaping of my identity and the adolescent years were really hard. My peers were extremely important to me. They overshadowed my family and I was rather focused on my interaction with my peers than on my relationships with my family.
Unfortunately, my social surrounding was far from perfect at this stage, since I was born and lived in poverty stricken neighborhood. As a result, many peers tended to anti-social and delinquent behavior affecting my personal development dramatically. It was really the period of the highest risk to my well-being and my future, since such a problematic social surrounding became more important to me than my parents who were educated and sensible people and who really wished I succeeded in my life. In fact, it was really the most difficult period of my life since I was in a great mess. Everything I believed in that was bring in my consciousness by my parents seemed to be useless, when I witnessed drug dealing and murders, extreme violence and dangerous gangs, which were not an abstract notion to me but was rather a part of reality I lived in and there was a great risk that I could become a part of this world since my peers gradually involved me in this lifestyle. Now I realized that this almost ruined the development of my internal inclinations and threatened to my positive personal development.
In such a way, I attempted to be a part of a small community consisting of my peers and separate myself from the world of my parents which I regarded as out of date and absolutely irrelevant to the real life. No wonder, under the impact of my peers and negative social surrounding, I failed to graduate from high school. However, I was not totally lost in all this mess. In stark contrast, as I grew older, in my late teens, I started to realize that there was something wrong with my lifestyle. I understood that my parents were not totally wrong, while my peers were not always right and, what is more, I felt that anti-social lifestyle of my surrounding would lead me to the dead-end.
Finally, I managed to cope with the problems I had and by the age of 18 I fully realized that I need to change my lifestyle. In this respect, my parents played a very important role since they were always supportive and as I grew older I understood that they are wise people worthy of being listened to. In fact, they helped me to give up my “adventures” with my peers and started a different life. As a result, I decided to get my GED and became a correctional officer. Later I joined military where I got my BA. In such a way, at the stage of young adulthood I managed to totally reject the negative influences of my social surrounding since my identity was actually shaped not only under the influence of my peers but also my parents and other significant adults and I attempted to look for what Kohlberg defined as social contract, entering another stage of my personal development (Shaffer, 2004).
At the same time, I want to underline that my social environment and cultural context produced a profound impact on my personal development. Since early childhood I was influenced by my parents with the help of which I actually discovered the surrounding world and shaped my basic views. In fact, my socialization started in my family. Gradually, other adults, such as teachers, and later peers started to play increasingly more important role in the formation of my personality. As I have already said, it is under the impact of my peers, which formed social environment that significant to me, I did not graduate from high school and I was dramatically affected by the violent environment which contributed to negative inclinations I tended to. For instance, in my teens I did not perceive violence and gangs as antisocial phenomena, instead, I perceived it as a norm. Fortunately, my socio-cultural was not limited by my peers only and, as I grew older the influence of my parents, which, in contrast to many of my peers and neighborhood at large, were educated people and had strong traditions influenced and convinced me to pay more attention to my education as my father and mother actually did and, in fact, they perceived higher education as a norm. As a result, under their impact, i.e. under the impact of socio-cultural context of my family, I changed my views on life and my future.
Now, I realize that I am an adult person and I should be responsible for my own actions since I am really independent and attempt my place in life. I want to underline that ethnical problems are growing more and more important to me and now I tend to make not simply choices that are useful to me but I want to make ethical choices, probably entering a new stage of my personal development.

Crain, W. C. (1985). Theories of Development. New York: Prentice-Hall.
Roazen, P. (1976). Erik H. Erikson: The Power and Limits of a Vision. New York: The Free Press.
Shaffer, David R. (2004). Social and Personality Development. LA: Wadsworth Publishing
Welchman, K. (2000). Erik Erikson, His Life, Work, and Significance. New York: Random House.

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