Psychosocial Crisis: Identity vs. Role Confusion
During this stage of Erikson’s psychosocial development, individuals experience a crisis of identity and confusion about their role within society. I distinctly remember going through this period of uncertainty during the six months that I lived in Spain. I was raised Catholic and had attended Catholic schools from preschool through college. Growing up I was very much involved in my parish church, from being an alter server to a reader. I had always felt strongly about my religion and considered myself proud to be a Catholic. When I went to Spain, however, I began to question my own Catholic identity and belief systems. Each week when I went to Mass the churches were nearly empty. Furthermore, I was the youngest person by over twenty years. By speaking to my Spanish friends, I realized why so many had become disillusioned with the church. I learned about the church’s involvement in Spanish politics and alignment with their former dictator. As a result, I began to see the Catholic Church through a different lens and was not proud of the message it was portraying in Europe. During this same period, the priest scandal broke out in the United States. I remember feeling frustrated with my own Catholic identity. I questioned what I stood for and why I believed what I did. “Who am I?” and “What do I represent” was something that I struggled with during this period. It was not until returning to the United States and speaking with my family and the Jesuits at Georgetown that I was able to resolve this mini-crisis in my life. I still consider myself a Catholic and feel connected to the faith community, but I am not proud of some of the Church’s teachings. Looking back, my identity as a Catholic and the role of religion in my life was forever altered from my time in Spain. The crisis I experienced was extremely difficult at the time, but I am glad it happened. It forced me to step outside my comfort zone and to question what I stand for and my own beliefs. As a result of this experience, I have become more involved with young Catholics and often facilitate religious discussions and retreats. In the end, this experience helped to shape my own personal convictions about morality, religion, and faith communities.