There’s conflicting beliefs on what makes you the person you are. Some believe that several of our personality traits inherent and we were born with them; while others believe our personality is molded by our upbringing.
Personally, I think that people are confusing inherent personality and learned perceptions.
Look back on your life and think about yourself as you have grown. Think about your earliest memories about what you liked, what you didn’t like, and how you were as a child – and then compare it to yourself today.
I have been an inquisitive person my entire life. For as long as I can remember I have always been asking the question “why?”. I’ve always wanted to know how things work, why things are the way they are, and why people do the things they do. I used to drive my dad crazy with all of my questions.
I have always been impatient. Even as a small child I wanted to get to where I was going (physically or proverbially) as quickly and easily as possible. I have never had tolerance or patience for dawdling, meandering, perusing, or dragging of the feet.
I have always been obstinate. I am 34 years old and I still most often refuse to budge on things I feel strongly about. I have learned to force myself to listen and (grudgingly) compromise, but my natural instinct is still to dig in my feet and refuse to surrender. In a similar vein I continue to have a distaste for being told what to do. Mind you, this trait has gone from refusing to do what I was told by anyone, to having a hearty distaste and refusal to do anything I’m told to do when the directive is coming from someone I do not consider a superior. On the other hand, if you ask me to do something, I’ll likely do it for you if I’m able. Similarly, as when I was 5 I am at 34 – you practically have to pull teeth to get me to do things I’m not interested in or that I find boring.
I have always been easily bored, and in need of being challenged. When I get bored with whatever it is I am tasked to do, my attention span flutters out the window and I abandon what I’m supposed to be doing for what I want to do. This is what got me in a lot of trouble in elementary school, until the teachers figured out what was going on and put me in the G.A.T.E program. This characteristic, is due in part as to why I’m writing this blog at 1:24 PM on a work day.
I have always taken things way too literally. As an adult many innuendos (verbal or physical) completely fly over my head. My friends often call me the most oblivious person in the world. I’m completely wrapped up inside of my head, and often times won’t understand what you’re trying to tell me if you’re beating around the bush or being vague you’ve got to be specific and straight to the point with me. Other times when you’re joking I will take whatever is said way too literally and not get the joke at all. I was the same way as a child. I’m sure you all know the saying “you are what you eat”. Well, when I was a child I took that way too literally. Being a small child full of naivety I thought that the only Asian people in the world were Chinese or Japanese, and I thought that the reason their eyes are they shape that they are, was because they ate so much rice. As an adult I’m horrified at the thought of that because with my adult perception I understand how bigoted that sounds. I have to remind myself that at the time I was 4 years old and had no concept of racism, I just literally thought that “you are what you eat.”
I could go on and on about personality traits I have today that have been with me since the get-go, but I think you get the picture.
Now, what about me has changed? Not so much my personality insofar as to the fact that my experiences, perceptions, life lessons, joys, sorrows, triumphs, and failures have all changed the way that these personality traits present themselves.
I firmly believe that we are all born with our own unique personalities, and it’s our lives that pull, push, stretch, shape, and mold how our personalities come to be defined as we reach adulthood and beyond.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this isn’t to be confused with learned behaviors. For example: racism, ignorance, hatefulness, violence, and narrow-mindedness – these are not personality traits, they are learned behaviors. We learn these behaviors from those in our lives in the position to teach us. We learn these behaviors from those in our lives that are in the position to mold us. We learn these behaviors from family, community, friends, and others who surround us. And like any behavior, these things can be altered and stopped.
Personality traits, they don’t change. They might be re-shaped or re-purposed, but they’re always there. I will always struggle with staying on task and staying focused on something that I don’t want to do (or think is boring) – but I will learn to do it anyway.
I will always want to know the “why” of everything, but I will learn that sometimes you will just never know why.
True to my first words “Pee-fow” and “Chee-buh-guh” – I will always love pretty flowers and cheeseburgers.