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106 The Communal Ideology, a Perspective Shift
Looking back on my mindset as I came into college, I’ve definitely transformed as a subject in my ideological mindsets. In this post, I want to compare myself today to my freshman-year self. In Louis Althusser’s essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” he defines the subject and the material existence that springs from the subject’s ideology: “the existence of the ideas of his belief is material in that his ideas are his material actions inserted into material practices governed by material rituals which are themselves defined by the material ideological apparatus from which derive the ideas of that subject” (697). I will attempt to explain how my material existence has been shaped by my ideology.
I didn’t hold a strong sense of community in my earlier years of adolescence. I didn’t have any strong role models, nobody in history of which I could identify with or recognize their struggles as humans. This has left me feeling alone, an outsider. Arriving at Plymouth State, my viewpoint was that this is a school that people come to to stay close to home. Or to party. Or to ski. That’s what I heard when I came here. Because Plymouth wasn’t a “prestigious” Ivy League school or somewhere far away, I felt like my problems were still going to follow me. Clearly, that was an ignorant ideology shaped by my inexperience in the world. My reality up to college was ruled by middle-class privilege. I’d never signed a lease by myself before. I’d never had to deal with roommates and responsibly juggling chores. I’d never voted in a primary election. My mindset, before entering university, was propagated by not fully realizing my rights and freedom as a U.S citizen. As of writing this, at the age of 21, I have spent three years cultivating for myself a stronger sense of connectedness with others. Especially as I have been fostering leadership skills, my developing social and political ideologies have changed my outlook on kinship with people.
The community event I would like to outline is the PSU Alumni gathering. As a part of the Student Support Foundation, I volunteered to attend a meeting in Lebanon in which a number of Plymouth Alumni came for a social gathering. I didn’t know to expect going into this; I assumed more students from other organizations were going to be in attendance. This wasn’t the case. Only two other people from the organization and myself were there, and we acted as a sort of guests of honor to the larger pool of alumni. This was very humbling and an eye-opening experience. It made me feel proud for being a member of a community, specifically the PSU community. People were genuinely interested and supportive of our goals as a student-driven organization. We all held the passion to help people, and that’s what tied us together. In general, over the past few weeks, I feel as if I have greatly shifted my perspective on communities and the power and agency that everyone within them.
I’ve branched out from a selfish person and have become concerned with the pervasive power of collaboration and teamwork. Next year, my senior year, I will be officially a member of two PSU organizations. That’s two more than I expected myself to be in when I came to Plymouth. My changing outlook on working with people is to thank for this unexpected path I have taken. I want to learn from others and service myself as to raise the quality of life for others. As the subject of ideologies, I’m interpellating myself in different ways than I did as an adolescent.