All of us have, at times, felt pulled in multiple directions by our families, different groups of friends, or cultures we're a part of. Some of us even have multiple cultures represented in our own homes. How do you relate to Jing-mei or Amy Tan's pull to have multiple identities? How do you decide when and how to meet the expectations of those various groups of people who all want different things from you?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In answering a question like this, I would first consider the various people whom you meaningfully interact with in the course of a typical day. Then consider what each of these groups expects from you. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Parent(s) or guardian(s)

The person or people who have your guardianship ideally have your future and best interests at the forefront of their minds. They likely have high expectations for the areas where they think you have some talent. They probably also have an idea about which people you should keep as friends in your close inner circle. Sometimes, all these expectations can create conflict at home when your goals or ideas don't align with theirs. This is exactly the issue at the heart of this prompt. Over which ideas or goals do you have conflict with your parents, and how do you peacefully resolve this?

Close friends

You probably have different circles of friends at school, and even your closest friends may be very different from each other. Does this generate any sort of conflict? If so, how do you determine which friends and which ideas of those friends are important enough to stand with—and which friends you entertain by being friendly but don't allow them to influence your behavior and decisions?

Teachers and coaches

If you have some talent in the classroom and/or on a field, court, or track, your teachers and coaches can often push you to excel and to continue excelling in a particular area. Recently, I counseled a student who excels at math and science, so some of her teachers and her school counselor are heavily pushing her to enter those fields as she applies to colleges. However, she really isn't interested in obtaining employment in STEM fields, even though she has talent there; she's much more interested in working in public relations. This type of conflict between what is expected of you and your own goals is again at the heart of this essay question.

As you consider those who influence you most and then determine those areas of conflict, also consider how you determine which voices to listen to and when. When do you trust solely your own instincts or voice? (Or is that ever the best idea?) How do each of these groups of people elicit different parts of your personality or strengths? When you consider the totality of all you are to all of the various people in your life, what strong categories emerge? What parts of your personality or character are always steadfast, regardless of the company you keep?

Be sure to relate these struggles of identity to "Two Kinds" and/or The Joy Luck Club and connect the particular struggles you face with those of the character(s).

I hope this helps with the organization of your ideas. Good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial