I am an African American, the first born in a family of two brothers. My family is athletic and everyone is or has been involved in various sporting activities. My mom is a former track star who represented the United States in several track events. She started her career in track events at the University of South California. My dad is a former European professional football player and attended the East Tennessee State University. Personally, I have been involved in track events since high school. I ran 110 meters hurdles for two years in both junior and senior high. Currently I run track and field 110 hurdles for NCSU, where I am on scholarship pursuing a degree in computer science.
Being an athletic individual, born in an athletic family, my social groups have always been centered on sports. I love sports and I have so far seen how sport has defined my life. Every day, as I interact with others in my social group, I get completely new and different experience. In the social group we are like friends always ready to support each other in time of need and to celebrate the success of everyone. We know each other well because we spend a lot of time together during practice and when showing support to the team or to one of us.
I became part of this group when I joined NCSU on scholarship. Being under scholarship in college is not a common phenomenon. Sometimes other students tend to see me belonging to the lower social class. They see me as poor and if it were not for the scholarship I would not have gone to college. It is not simple to put up with such perceptions because they hurt my feelings. It takes an attitude to tolerate such people and to live life focused on what brought me to NCSU. Joining the group was a positive step towards building my esteem in midst of such hostility. Everyone in the group is different. I am not the only one on scholarship in the group. There are four of us. This helps us to get along well. At the same time, the other three members who are not on scholarship are very understanding. Young people will always display some behaviors. It is important to know that one will not always be liked by everyone in a social gathering. There will always be conflict between people of different class and groups. Some people simply come together to cause conflict with other groups. I understand these aspects of youth interactions because I have experienced them ever since I was in elementary school. Therefore I do not let it affect me when someone or a group of people make fun of me because of my status in the society. I know my brightness and talent in field track events got me the scholarship. I joined NSCU with a gpa of 4.0. We are all high achievers in the group despite the fact that we all love and participate in sports. We are among the top in our classes.
I appreciate NSCU for giving me the opportunity to study computer science at the same time be part of the college team in track events. The opportunity has made encounter some of the most amazing experiences of my life. NCSU is among the best universities that has produced top athletes and professional workers in various fields of study. My selection of a social group to interact with in the college campus is really important because it can determine whether I will succeed in meeting the requirements of the scholarship or not. I chose a social group which will help achieve my goals. I know the influence friends can have to an individual. Friends have a strong influence which can affect the decisions that people make in life. If one picks the wrong company, then most likely they will make wrong decisions that will affect them negatively. However, if one picks the right friends, then most likely they will move in the right direction of achieving their purpose and goals in life. I had realized this in the beginning as I joined the university. I therefore made a promise to myself that I will not be part of a company that will take me in a different direction from what I want in life.
Currently, I have a group of friends. We are seven in number. There is a lot of homogeneity and similarity between us. Four of us are on scholarship. We are all athletes in one way or another. Some of us play football while the rest are engaged in track events. Academically, we are always among the top of our classes. Whenever we meet as a group, we always have fruitful discussions. Sometimes we are always referred by other groups as the ‘geeks’ and ‘sport freaks’. They say that they it difficult to understand how we can demonstrate academic excellence at the same time stay on top of our game in sports. However, we tend to relate with people from outside our group differently. We do not take ourselves to be superior in any way. We are a humble lot. Humility is one thing that has really helped us to be where we are today and we will always remain humble and focused. This is why I like this group. Sometimes, other people may hate on us. personally, I have experienced this. It tempts me to proudly express my achievements and the achievements of my social group. However, I always focus on the principle of humility. It is the greatest thing that one can ever do.
It really feels nice being around these people because I know they would sacrifice anything for me. At the same time, we have similar goals and ambitions in life, to be the best field trackers in school. We have ambitions to represent our country in a major competition such as the Olympics and the world athletic championship. Before, we reach to this point we would like to represent our country in regional of world junior athletic championship. Since we have the same vision, we always support each other, train together in our free time.
My social group is also diverse. There are members from various ethnicity and race. We have Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans, and white Americans. We understand our diversity and the reason why we came together. I appreciate this group because in as much as we have a lot of line that divide us, we are always like a unit. This inspires me and has enabled to developed skills of interpersonal relationship. I can effectively interact with anyone from any culture. I am sensitive to various people’s feelings and needs.
The group is not entirely the same. There are some differences which allow every member to learn from each other. As earlier mentioned, there is diversity of ethnicity, race, and religion. This allows room for different perspective into the issues we discuss whenever we meet. The way I see an issue is not the same way a white person would view it due to cultural background. Similarly, the way a Muslim would view an issue is not the same way a Christian would view it. For instance, I remember one day we were arguing about the protest made by the Saudi Arabia squash team at the Olympic. The players wanted to be allowed to dress in a way that recognizes and honors their Muslim religion. However, the Olympic Organizing committee declined the plea on the grounds that hijabs are not designed for playing any sporting activity. It was interesting to hear the views of my Muslim friends regarding the issue. For me and the others, our weight was fully on the side of the Olympic Organizing committee. We argued that if a player dressed in hijab into a game, they will be inconvenienced to move freely. The player may eventually end up hurt or lose the game. It is better to dress appropriately for any event or activity as the dress code is scientifically designed for that particular purpose.
In one way or another, people are part of a social group. For some groups, the membership is voluntarily while for other groups membership is involuntarily. For instance, my membership in my family is out of choice but my membership in the social group is by choice. My biggest motivation to join this group is the feeling to belong. I wanted to belong to a group of people with the same interest. I love music, art, and books but I find sports to more intriguing than all these other things in life. Sport is the one thing that makes me relax and always puts joy in my heart. I could as well join a book club or a music band. But I chose the group with the highest degree of similar interests to me. Besides, we easily talk about books, academics, music, movies, and general news in the group. So, I joined the group in order to have a feeling of inclusion. This in return would raise my self esteem in the field track as well as in other activities in my life. I get a sense of meaningful existence when I share my views about the world in this group and also get to hear their point of view.
In essence, the group provides a sense of companionship, security, affiliation, power, and achievement. It gives me a sense of companionship because I get to a company of people that I want to interact with. Being a college athlete takes a lot of hard work. It is not a simple experience. One has to balance between class work, school work, and sports. There is also the social aspect of life that demands a lot of time and input. Nothing is promised but it only takes hard work to stay on top of the game. I have to remain discipline every day in order to be focused. I get a lot of motivation and inspiration from my family members as well as from the team and my social group. These are the people who help me see where I am going and to remain focused to its. Maintaining the balance is not easy. In class I have a minimum gpa target that I have set for myself as a requirement to keep the scholarship. I try to set to higher than what the scholarship requires. I understand that when I set my goals high, it is not necessary for me to reach my target but I am guaranteed to be close to the target market. Therefore, in order for me to keep the scholarship, I have to set higher target than what is expected of me. Attaining a gpa of 4.0 is not easy considering my kind of lifestyle, but that is my target in academics. At the same time, in the field I have to focus and practice hard in order to remain on top of my game. I listen to my coach as well as my team mates. After every practice session I meet with my social group where we just get together and talk about different staff. We catch up on class work and sports and other activities.
Social groups have a lot of benefits not only for young people but also business people and adults. Even though young people are known to form social groups more often than adults, they are equally important for everyone. The boundaries of a group impact social behaviors of people. They create labels that make individuals to identify with particular groups. These boundaries also affect the circle an individual would interact with. As a result, emotional bonds and social ties are formed with fellow group members. This effect is quite evident in my social group. First, we were drawn together by the love of sports. We are all field track athletes. This is the one thing that we all have in common. We also love sports in general can engage in discussion of other sporting activities.
Research studies show that social groups are driven by psychosocial channels to demonstrate pro-social behaviors. In other words, an individual identified by a label of a social group is highly likely to support and help other individuals identified with the same label than those identified with a different label (Sarason et al 2009). However, real social groups are more than just labels of identification. They are characterized by intense interaction within the group. In effect, strong emotional and social ties are formed. These social ties can also be referred to as friendship. They are formed when one individual tends to feel the weight of the well being of another. Social ties are not developed once but over a period of time. They are developed by the interactions (Sandeland, 2008).
The connection of a group occurs mostly when the group members have a similar mind set; as the saying goes “the birds of the same feather flock together”. This motivation factor holds for a number of relationships in life. My interest and connection in the group is dependent on whether I have the same mind set as the others. These are people I believe will help me in achieving my interest and goals in life as an athlete (Sarason et al 2009).
The composition of the group is based on other factors as well as individual choice. These factors include homogeneity, heterogeneity, group structure, diversity, and size (Sarason et al 2009). Every member in the group has a similar purpose of being in the group. Whenever we meet, members know the reason for their meeting. We are so used to each other that we cannot take more than a day without meeting. The individual need of members is not the purpose for meeting. Sometimes, there is always a misconception that people tend to meet in social groups to meet the individual needs of members. My group tends to think beyond the members. Sometimes, we decide to venture into causes without our surroundings. We can pay visits to homeless people and give them food. Whenever there is a community clean up organized by the school or the local authorities, we make a point to attend (Sarason et al 2009).
According to the theory of social contract, individuals lose their free will and subject themselves to the law. However as they get under the umbrella of the law, they use it to protect their individual rights. There are few instances where the law fails to protect the autonomy of individual life. One such instance is when a mother wants to terminate the life of an unborn baby. The law recognizes each of these individuals but in most cases the unborn baby’s autonomy ends up not being protected by the law.
Sarason, I. G., Pierce, G. R., & Sarason, B. R. (2009). Social support and interactional
processes: A triadic hypothesis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 495-506
Sandelands, L., & St. Clair, L. (2008). Toward an empirical concept of group. Journal for
the Theory of Social Behavior, 23, 423-458