A good friend asked me if I noticed that those we grew up with acted much like they did when they were much younger? I wasn’t sure how to answer so I asked in what way? He said that my demeanor was pretty much the same as when I was young. He went on to share names of friends we both have known a long time and their similarities throughout the years.
I couldn’t help but agree. His examples were indisputable. But something didn’t feel right. When asking my wife she agreed. While many she knew were the same, she knew of other friends who did change quite a bit. When younger a person was much more mischievous. Now they are much more reserved.
The quiet one remains quiet. The goofy one continues to make people laugh. Extroverted people can always carry a conversation. Being thoughtful and caring can be seen in someone at a young age. And so on…
Our nature stays with us at our core. But things do change. I know I have through the years. In trying to reconcile my good friend’s observation with what I just shared there is this conflict. While I agree my nature stays with me, I am not the same as I was thirty years ago.
What is interesting about this conflict is that it really isn’t one. My nature is the same. The way I act and approach situations has not changed. Changes that have occurred are with the world around me. Who I interact with and what I read and aspire to is different today than back then.
My connections into the world, through family, work and hobbies continue to develop, expand and evolve. Age brings with it greater understanding simply through the experiences we go through. The degree to which we expand ourselves into the world varies greatly between us. One approach is no better than the other. But yes they are different. Leading us down different roads. Many times shaped by the stages of our life. Other times by our responsibilities. Sometimes by who we randomly meet along the way.
The danger in believing that our nature stays with us and that is why we stay the same can be very limiting. We must accept our nature but then look into the world around us to see who we interact with, what our dreams and goals are, and actively participate in the world. For it is only in this fertile ground, within the outside world, where we can evolve and expand. Bringing us surprises, new joys, and many more happy endings to many things we hope for through the years.
PS. Even though this may not be easy.