Who are we?

I listened to another Podcast on TED recently and I found it quite interesting. They discussed behavior, personality traits and what accounts for who we are. Is it biological and our DNA? Or is it learned? And can any of this be changed?  Numerous studies have been done and it has resulted in varying theories.

As a young child I was a people person. This hasn’t changed.  I was never shy and I enjoyed being with people. Because I was an only child I spent a large portion of my time with adults. I enjoyed listening to them discuss various topics, had no problem asking questions or expecting explanations. However, in the classroom at school I hated being called on to stand up and give an answer. I have no logical reasoning for this. I just went out of my way to avoid it. In high school this didn’t change. I preferred sitting in the back of the class and didn’t enjoy participating in class discussion. 

By the time I was in college and age 25, this hadn’t really changed. I vividly recall that I had to take Speech as one of my courses. Our final grade was to be based on an essay we wrote (I loved that part) AND had to read standing at a podium in front of the class. For the entire semester I dreaded this. I even asked my Professor if she could just give me a “C” and we could skip the oral speech. It didn’t work. I still recall standing up there, gripping the podium with sweaty palms, voice shaking. But I DID it. And I got a B for the class.

Fast forward to age 30 and I’m back in college to become an RN.  Somehow, I had changed. Something happened. Because I found myself taking a seat in the front row of every class. The little girl who didn’t want to be called on? She now raised her hand to ask a question or have something explained. Speaking in front of the class for an essay or class project? Gone were the sweaty palms and dread.  What accounted for this change? I don’t know for certain, but I attribute a fair amount of the change to self-confidence, a bit of DNA from my outgoing dad and coming into a sense of self. 

And by the time my first book was published at age 61 and I found myself giving speaking engagements, doing seminars for writing and speaking in front of very large crowds, it felt like I’d been doing this all my life.  Not only did I feel comfortable, I actually loved it. I loved looking out at a crowd, making eye contact, sharing both my novel and my writing career and hearing the feedback from my audience. 

As a child, like many kids, I had a lot of fears. But my mom was a fearful person. Sometimes she overcame those fears and sometimes not. But I think I paid attention even when I didn’t realize it. Because by the time I reached adulthood, I knew I didn’t want to live my life that way. I took risks. I took chances. Sure, I still have normal/petty fears, but for the most part, I’ve never looked back.

I also had some behavior as a child, teen and young adult that I came to view as not pleasing. I used to interrupt during conversations, I was bossy, I enjoyed gossip.  I didn’t consciously focus on fixing these things.  They are, after all, personality traits. But I didn’t like them. And somehow they disappeared. I attribute this to socialization. Being in college, the business world, and even travel. 

By the time I finished listening to the Podcast, I had decided that a combination of life experiences, events, our DNA, our exposure to people and places, and yes, even honesty, not only forms who we are but also who we would like to be in the world. 

And based on my recent post about creating our own happiness, I also feel that if the desire is strong enough, we can also change . . . and at age 70, I rather like the person who has evolved.

See you here next time…………………

6 thoughts on “Who are we?

  1. Good morning, Terri! I enjoyed reading this post and found that many of your childhood experiences mirrored mine…perhaps because we are the same age. I remember looking forward to having female visitors to our home…mostly my aunts…and being involved in their conversations. Unlike you, however, I am still nervous when I have to speak in front of a group of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that being the same age accounts for many shared experiences and the way we view life. And I guess that’s why each generation views many things differently. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not.


  2. This was interesting Terri…although our childhoods were very different…I was like you in school in that, I would prefer not to speak or be called up. With a last name that starts with A though, it was pretty hard to blend in and not be noticed. As the years progressed because of my weight problem I never had very much self-confidence but I had learned how to disguise it in presenting myself as stronger than I was. Then at 35 when, I started my weight lose journey things changed for me. People started to notice and before long the organization that I belonged to asked me to speak. I was sort of shell-shocked that anyone really would care about what I had to say…but because I wanted to help others, I spoke…and honestly, I’ve never stopped. LOL

    I think what happens is all of the above but I also think we all reach a point in life when we want to be heard, validated for who we are inside and we want to help others. I also think for me, I was that I knew what I was talking about because I was the one who did it. When you know your material, you can speak about it. Then from there, I just got all the self-confidence that I had been missing.. Now, I speak and teach beginners photography because I know that is one of my strong points and like you, I love it…

    Sometimes it takes a long time to get to where we always wanted to be. The thing is, you can never give up on yourself…

    Have a nice day Terrri…

    Liked by 2 people

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