The Erikson life-stage virtues, in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired, are:
- Hope – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust – Infant stage. Does the child believe its caregivers to be reliable?
- Will – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – Toddler stage. Child needs to learn to explore the world. Bad if the parent is too smothering or completely neglectful.
- Purpose – Initiative vs. Guilt – Kindergarten – Can the child plan or do things on his own, such as dress him or herself. If “guilty” about making his or her own choices, the child will not function well. Erikson has a positive outlook on this stage, saying that most guilt is quickly compensated by a sense of accomplishment.
- Competence – Industry vs. Inferiority – Around age 6 to puberty. Child comparing self worth to others (such as in a classroom environment). Child can recognize major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children. Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior.
- Fidelity – Identity vs. Role Confusion – Teenager. Questioning of self. Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? Erikson believes that if the parents allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their views, the teen will face identity confusion.
- Love (in intimate relationships, work and family) – Intimacy vs. Isolation – Young adult. Who do I want to be with or date, what am I going to do with my life? Will I settle down? This stage has begun to last longer as young adults choose to stay in school and not settle.
- Caring – Generativity vs. Stagnation – the Mid-life crisis. Measure accomplishments/failures. Am I satisfied or not? The need to assist the younger generation. Stagnation is the feeling of not having done anything to help the next generation.
- Wisdom – Ego Integrity vs. Despair – old age. Some handle death well. Some can be bitter, unhappy, and/or dissatisfied with what they have accomplished or failed to accomplish within their life time. They reflect on the past, and either conclude at satisfaction or despair.
I haven’t pondered the above since I was in nursing school, and perhaps I really didn’t even ponder it then…I simply stored it for sometime later in life or it became a comforting mantra in the delicate and intricate thinking process of every day decision-making and mostly related to my career choice. But, recently, I began to find it actually popping up in light hearted conversation and I researched it again, but this time in order to soul-search. For those of you who do not know who or what this is about, a brief introduction; Erik Erikson was a psychologist and for all intrinsic purposes and lack of detail here he was around during the time of Freud or thereafter. He postulated that there are eight stages in which we all go through as we work our way through life and develop into the person we are seen as or for the most part~ ‘what is our personality’ and our outlook and relation to life as it were.
When I looked again at this list I realized that I am now at Stage 7. It seems like yesterday, I was barely out of Stage 5 and into Stage 6 and well…I wonder where the time went? And, it now dawns on me that is exactly what Stage 7 is talking about. Interestingly enough the truism is that I truly do wish to leave a legacy or offer a virtuous attempt to connect with the generation sidling up behind mine. To leave some bit of wisdom and those that I have met and have offered any constructive advice have for the most part been accepting. Using the old adage and I hate this phrase with a passion, even once swore I’d never use it…but, When I was your age… I felt just like you and often found myself asking. What is the point? Where am I going and will Social Security still be there when I want to retire or am forced to admit I’m old.
Of course, I jest as to the specifics of what perhaps I was really conjuring in my thoughts then; but suffice to know; the reality of my thoughts more than likely ran along these lines, and were perpendicular to the norm~ very loud, raucous music, something Freud would certainly have been proud to know I thought about, and whether the substance being offered guaranteed I’d feel good and perhaps hallucinate. I state this simply to equate the baseline logistics of today’s younger generation and acquaint you to the fact, that we are not that much different in our scope of where we were and where you are now. Quite simply, Been there; Done that! The facts, however, is that at some point the minutia of living your life begins to take shape, substance and it just carries you along from stage to stage and then you are faced with or it simply dawns upon you~ Again, those infernal questions of your youth, but now you are holding a clock…
And…you reach for what comforted you most in your youth~ All those things you took for granted would always be there: your favorite pillow, the baby blanket now tattered and torn, chicken noodle or tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich on the side, a favorite book, television series, a collection, toy, or past-time, ergo~ anything to remind and allow you to passively delve back into your past, or simply to allow you a moment without hearing the dastardly ticking.
I recently found my profound time machine, my link to the past, the effortless paradigm that creates a sudden shift from my careening toward Stage 8 and snapping serenely back to Stage 4. The most simple and less complex time perhaps of my life. I was just doing, and had no worries, no fears and life was grand. Interestingly enough I categorically denied the idea for so long, citing how silly, how quaint, how utterly time-wasting that could be… but I was wrong.
…seems Farmville is more about a return to the simplistic realm of being part of life itself…Think about it and then I’ll reveal why this is integral to me as a person. My closest family members will no doubt know…
…you plant crops and invite neighbors to assist you…Try that in real life nowadays, and you are met with indifference and an odd smile. It just don’t happen. We have charitable organizations who once they remove the cream of the crop for themselves and justify it with ‘operating costs’; they pass the meager dregs onto the needy and then scream they need more. But concentrate simply upon planting crops and tending livestock for a moment and hearken to what that means to the common good of humanity, the caring spirit that looms within all of us as caretakers of the earth; a profound state of what is essentially human nature.
The Farmer’s Market…evidently more lucrative and worthwhile than the open market, stock market or world market…as even in reality, Farmer’s Markets present wholesome, nutritious and variety often not apparent or reachable by other markets who define their worth by selling to the highest bidders. The Farmville experience allows one the virtual sense that all is honorable and right within a fair trade and barter system, all the while we know differently in our current world recession; hence, the sense and frolic that things are right within our life, economically.
Where am I going…with all of this? While we pass from stage to stage as Erikson suggests, we manage to take from each stage that which is most comforting to us and we hang onto that as we embark toward destiny. The path is neither a straight and narrow line, nor is it the same path for everyone…but one constant remains…we long for keeping things in our life simple, easy and worthwhile. And, I began that lesson and learning process long ago…when my favorite toy it seems was a ‘farm set’. Not Barbies, or Lincoln Logs, or the ever popular Light Bright, or even the Etcha-Sketch and Slinky, although those have paramount moments too.
So…in summation, to the youth of this world that seems to change overnight and bring on more and more technological advancements that mire and obscure the vision that life is actually quite simple in design…when it seems, there is no real end to your struggle and worries…think back to the more simplistic times in your life…it’s okay. You’ll find your answers there.