After writing personal statements, bios, filling out “about me” sections, answering interview questions, and writing a preface for my poetry book it is easy for me to understand myself, but it took a long time to understand this fluid construct of a “self-concept” that consist of my conception and expression of my individuality. These descriptions of myself are based on my self-schemas, which are a collection of long lasting memories including beliefs, generalizations,experiences, academic performance, gender, social, and cultural roles. A self-schema is based on any physical characteristic, personality trait, behavior, or interest I have as long as it is seen by me to be important to who I am. These schemas interchange and interaction with each other depending on cultural backgrounds and environmental factors. They also represent how I expect myself to think, act, and feel in a particular situation or setting.
For instance as far as my interest, the two most prominent self-schemas I have are my professional schema and my poetic schema and they happen to be on the opposite ends of the schema spectrum. My self-schema as a poet would never interfere with my self-schema as a professional because the poet in me doesn’t wear slacks or speak standard English, while the professional me is motivated by performance and money rather than the power of manipulating words. I realized the strong tendencies of my subconscious as it only attends to and remembers information that is relevant to my self-schemas. For example, my professional schema self-perpetuates itself as I chose to engage into activities based on the stereotypes of what I think a professional is and my poetic schema is always searching for inspiration and new words to learn. During the day I refine my resume and cover letter, search job sites, read articles about career improvement, and of course work but then I go home and proofread a poem, research literary techniques, listen to hip-hop for inspiration, and read poetry by Langston Hughes. I am bias towards both types of information but I’m only interested in the professional details when I’m in a professional environment and vice versa.
However, as I start to market my poetry book, my professional schema has collaborated with my poetic schema to learn how to creativity promote a self-published book. My professional self has been able to assimilated certain information that is useful for business aspects of publishing in a way my poetic self would have had trouble understanding. My poetry schema could care less how many people buy the book, how much it cost to make it, and it definitely could care less how much money I make from it. My poetic schema just wants the poetry to be out there, but my professional schema knows it deserves to have a modest price attached to it, simply because of all the time and effort put into crafting it. Also, the professional schema funds the poetic schema, so it tends to want a return on its investment.
With this understanding of my self-schemas it is easy for me to realize why I became who I am and why I like what I like. Not many people are conscious of the underlying mental processes that reduce the amount of information their brain has to interpret and how stimuli in the environment is perceived. Also, they are not aware that our schemas guide our focus, influence our memories, and judgments. As a poet it is vital to me to understand how I came to act and think the way I do. This allows me to accomplish all my goals, whether they are career driven or for my own personal gain. Before I had this understanding, it was a world of distorted reality, unrealistic rigid expectations, and I could only fulfilled the limited prophecy my overall “self-concept” had created. Since this construct will never be static, the question will always remain, “Schemas, who am I?”