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Analysis of the Human Experience: Description of the Four Perspectives

The first perspective, which is important to discuss while exploring the nuances of the human experience, is art. After all, distinctive cultural and societal perspectives shape whom people grow up to be. Art is not only a crucial tool for experiencing the external world. It is also integral for expressing one’s internal turmoil, emotions, and anxieties. Thus, art should be rightfully considered a part of the human experience as a communicator between individuals and their surroundings. Furthermore, this perspective is essential to fully grasp the relationships people develop amongst each other and with the outside world as they try to document these invisible connections through music, sculpture, and performance.

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Example

An example of the connection between art and the human experience is the impact a dysfunctional family often has on a person and their artistic pursuits. Those who suffered from childhoods of abuse and neglect decide to express their trauma through art. Famous artistic geniuses who follow this pattern include Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Sylvia Plath, and many more. Research suggests that childhood adversities endorse creative pursuits. Thompson and Jaque (2018) note that those exposed to abuse, trauma, or loss at an early age have “a heightened awareness of technical and expressive abilities, and increased spiritual awareness during the creative process” (p. 6). Therefore, it is apparent that a dysfunctional childhood can potentially be a gateway into the realm of creativity and self-expression through art.

Impact of Human Experience on Groups

While everyone is certainly different and unique, humans tend to share the same or similar experiences based on the groups to which they belong. Thus, aspects of life affecting a child are much different from those influencing said child’s grandparents. The experience of a woman in the workplace may differ significantly from the experience of their male colleague, which is important to note as well. The example of the connection between the human experience and groups is a predetermined set of gender expectations and stereotypes. It has evolved over millennia and developed in various ethnic, socio-economic, technological, and religious contexts.

Example

For instance, women are still often considered intellectually inferior to men. High achievements in academia and scientific discoveries are associated with men far more than with women. As a result, young girls feel discouraged to pursue a career in STEM or other fields requiring high-level intellectual abilities (Bian, Leslie, & Cimpian, 2017). The surroundings of these girls, including their own families, educators, and role models, ensure the pursuit of more “girly” hobbies and interests. According to Bian et al. (2017), “gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests” (p. 389). Therefore, it is crucial to consider an individual’s membership in certain groups to fully understand the experiences, which might have shaped who they are today.

Universalities of the Human Experience

The notion behind the universalities of the human experience is rather self-explanatory. It is crucial to acknowledge that billions of Earthlings can share the same experience no matter their religious affiliation, cultural background, or ethnicity. There are simply specific aspects of human existence, which every single person, or at least a vast majority of people, find relatable. Thus, it is important to find ways to categorize universal human experiences and differentiate them from those aspects, which are a product of certain cultures, surroundings, and so on. Under the umbrella of a universal human experience, existence in a certain period can be considered. Thus, the aspects of life billions of people are globally exposed to in the 21st century are rightfully universal, although they might have not even been on the horizon during the 1900s.

Example

Based on the cross-cultural analysis of human experiences and individual preferences, scientists suggest that the desire for personal space is omnipresent. Sorokowska et al. (2017) collected data from more than 9,000 individuals from 42 different countries to study their preferences regarding social distance. They found that people mostly shared the same beliefs surrounding preferred interpersonal distances, which could be considered a common experience.

Human Experience: Structure and Movement

The need for stability is another universal aspect of human existence, which explains the relationship between structure and the human experience. In order to maintain order and peace, throughout centuries, people put effort into setting up the proper authorities and developing appropriate rules. These efforts have translated into the political and religious institutions people are governed by nowadays. However, sometimes, stability is no longer a priority as people choose to move in order to make their living conditions more tolerable or simply better. Thus, the need for structure and movement are the building blocks of the human experience.

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Example

As for the example of structure influencing the human experience, religion is a gateway into understanding the deeply personal aspects of an individual’s existence. After all, certain aspects are predetermined, including race, gender, or physical ability. On the other hand, others, such as religion, may be a constant in a person’s childhood due to family traditions but become a deliberate choice as one transitions into adulthood. There are many reasons why people choose to affiliate with a specific religion. They might have a dire need for spiritual fulfillment, support, or a sense of purpose. However, no matter the initial urge, the impact of religion on a person’s life should never be underestimated. Kelley, Marks, and Dollahite (2020) note that religion can be either a unifying or a dividing factor in parent-child relationship dynamics. Certain religious traditions promote unique social behaviors, values, attitudes, and so on.

My Human Experience

In regards to my personal human experience, I would consider my life story to be a bit extraordinary, primarily because of the impact structure and movement have had on me. I was born and partially raised in the Dominican Republic. In terms of the universalities of human experience, I consider the 90s to be a decade of pop culture, media excess, and an economic boom. Thus, anyone living through the same period was likely to possess the same goals, fears, and anxieties. If the key feature of the 80s was excess, the decade that followed was all about conservation.

What contributed to the difficult financial situation many people found themselves in during the time was the fact that I grew up in a broken home. Being the middle child and having two brothers, my single mother’s earnings were barely enough to support us fully. Thus, growing up as a member of the lower middle-class has had a profound impact on my values and aspirations. People who are a part of the less than fortunate financial group often find themselves eager to support their families as soon as possible. There is a constant need to provide as much as you can, and the main priority is the financial security of you and those around you, rather than spiritual fulfillment or self-centered pursuits. Therefore, as a child, I have had more important things to worry about than religion or serving my community although my family was quite religious.

In elementary school, I was a rather quiet kid. Despite that, I grasped the material quickly, which was why I was moved up a year in second grade. In terms of the human experience and groups, this instance has only contributed to my struggle to fit in at my school. I was shy and had almost no friends. The fact that I was moved up a year attracted the wrong sort of attention, making it significantly harder to be a part of any friend group or even talk to my peers.

At the age of 11, my brothers and I were left in the care of my aunt. Due to the financial struggles and the difficulties my mother had in finding a well-paying job in the Dominican Republic, she decided to move to the United States. Again, the fact that my family and I belonged to a low socio-economic group has impacted me as a human being. Being separated from the person I loved the most and raised by a game addict who would spend all the money on gambling, I was under an immense amount of stress. From the perspective of structure and movement, my life was especially chaotic and unpredictable. This made me long for security and stability, which eventually led me to the word of God. As I tried to make sense of the chaos I seemed to be always surrounded by at the time, I longed for a routine and a purpose. Therefore, my faith has eventually become the only constant I could always rely on during the time. As a result, I no longer associated myself with just one group (lower middle-class) but two, adding a proud title of “Christian” to the list.

Another perspective, which is important to consider in relation to my dysfunctional upbringing, is art. Once I only had my brothers and no one else to rely on, I have found myself especially entranced by fictional worlds and stories. Literature became my gateway into the realms of possibilities. Apart from sparking my creativity and engrossing me into the lives of courageous heroes, books have taught me a lot about relationships with other people. Although a 12-year-old me was much better at socializing than a 7-year-old me, I still had struggles making friends easily due to my introverted tendencies. Thus, art, particularly literature, was my primary teacher of social adaption, communication, and morals.

Another important aspect of my life, which is important to consider under the prism of structure and movement, and its impact on the human experience, is my move to the United States. When I was 14, my mother was financially stable enough for my brothers and me to immigrate to America. This has been the biggest change for me as I immediately found myself going through a culture shock.

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The experiences of immigrants are relatively universal. After all, moving to another country is exceptionally stressful as one tries to adapt, learn the language, and re-discover who they are. Immigrants often cope with the stress they are under by reconnecting with their cultural background. This was exactly what happened to me as I started to cherish my Dominican ancestry and express my culture through the clothes I wore, the books I read, as well as the music I listened to. In addition, it is often universal for immigrants to gravitate towards members of their native communities once they move. Again, this was the case for me as I started to befriend people exclusively from Central and South America. Firstly, I could relate to them more as they were members of the same immigrant group as me. Thus, we had the same struggles, fears, priorities, values, and aspirations for the future. Secondly, since I knew little English, I considered friends who spoke Spanish a true gift.

Apart from reconnecting to my cultural heritage and surrounding myself with Latino friends, I also longed for structure through religion. Faith has the ability to remain a constant in a person’s life, eliminate the sources of stress for them, and ensure there is a semblance of organization in their daily routine. I had to be governed by something, so I chose God and started to devote myself to the church and spread the Lord’s word. I believe that this experience is connected to my status as an immigrant. Being a member of the immigrant group made me more prone to embrace the cultural, social, and religious traditions I have had back home.

Gradually, I became fluent in English and started to make more American friends. After high school, I felt prepared enough to enroll in college. However, despite my best efforts, I dropped out twice. The reason why this happened was the connection between my human experience and the socio-economic group to which I belonged. I did not have the opportunity to exclusively study while all my expenses would be covered by my family.

Although I probably had the chance to ask my mother for help, teenagers universally want to achieve financial freedom from their parents, which was the case for me. As I had to work a full-time job to support myself properly and help my family simultaneously, I have had a hard time keeping up with the academic workload. As an immigrant, schooling is especially important to me, my brothers, and my mom. Thus, I intend to graduate which is why now, when I feel financially secure enough, I am completing my degree. I am about to be in my thirties, which is universally the age most people are already married and have children. However, I consider myself somewhat of an exception as I finally can put myself and my goals first in the pursuit of my dream career.

Conclusion: Interconnections

Summing up, the four perspectives reviewed in this paper and my personal human experience have specific interconnections. First, as was mentioned, art connects an individual and their surroundings. As for me, a particular form of art, namely literature, helped me to comprehend much about interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, the factual circumstances of my life made me find faith in God and become a Christian, which represents an impact of human experience on groups. Moreover, I am a child of a family that had to move to a new place, which is an interconnection between my human experience and structure and movement. That is also a universal experience of immigrants because most people feel the same when they have to move somewhere, which shatters their need for stability. Therefore, all four perspectives reviewed have been interconnected with my life, one way or another.

Visual Representation

The visual representation (see Appendix A) demonstrates the interconnections described in the previous paragraph. The graph contains specific events of my life that led to each of the four perspectives reviewed in this paper. First, my move to the United States interconnects my human experience and the perspective of structure and movement. Second, my troubles with social adaptation caused my need for literature because the books were teaching me the skills I lacked. Third, my immigration made me experience the same feeling that is universal for immigrants all over the world. Finally, my life is unpredictable and chaotic, which led me to the Word of God, and I became Christian. That represents an interconnection between my human experience and its impact on groups, as Christians are a group of which I became a member. Therefore, each perspective reviewed in this work has an interconnection with my personal human experience, as the visual representation demonstrates.

References

Bian, L., Leslie, S.-J., & Cimpian, A. (2017). Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Science, 355(6323), 389–391. doi:10.1126/science.aah6524

Kelley, H. H., Marks, L. D., & Dollahite, D. C. (2020). Uniting and dividing influences of religion on parent–child relationships in highly religious families. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi:10.1037/rel0000321

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Sorokowska, A., Sorokowski, P., Hilpert, P., Cantarero, K., Frackowiak, T., Ahmadi, K., … Bettache, K. (2017). Preferred interpersonal distances: A global comparison. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(4), 577–592. doi:10.1177/0022022117698039

Thomson, P., & Jaque, S. V. (2018). Childhood adversity and the creative experience in adult professional performing artists. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1–9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00111

Appendix A

Analysis of the Human Experience

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