You haven’t changed…

I saw an old friend this week. We had a lovely day catching up on each others lives, a wonderful lunch and quite a few laughs. Inevitably, we took the usual trip down memory lane; mostly the work lane. We chatted about the people we remembered, who we were still in touch with – the usual stuff really. We hadn’t seen each other for about eleven years but it was a comfortable, easy-going day.

Just before I left, my friend said ‘you haven’t changed a jot’ with a smile. Although I smiled back, inside I felt a little diminished – hadn’t I changed at all, hadn’t I grown, hadn’t my experiences changed me at all? Perhaps he saw what he wanted to see – the person he knew all those years ago.  Or perhaps in reality I was still the person I was. This got me thinking – do people never really change, does the core of who we are, the younger version of us stay in tact forever?  Is there in fact a finite period of human growth?

After some fifty years on this planet, I hope I have more knowledge, more experiences of places and people and thus a greater understanding of the human condition (and myself). I’ve never shirked from ‘lifting the stone’ and looking at the underbelly of life, I haven’t had personal experience of it – I’ve been lucky – but I know it’s there. Some people I’ve met refuse to look at it, refuse to acknowledge that life is sh*t for a lot of people, refuse to accept that life doesn’t treat everyone the same, but I don’t. That in itself has changed me.

As to the core of who I am, I still have the same values, the same drivers, the same insecurities, the same strengths – they are just wrapped in an older body now. Have I learned from my mistakes?  Do I repeat the same actions again and expect a different outcome (can’t remember who said that)?  I’m not sure I can answer that honestly – perhaps that is the core of change, to manage who you are, better.

What do you think?  Do we change, or fundamentally stay the same?  What effects change in us humans?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Categories: Just Plain Blog

12 replies

  1. Do I still have arguments in the mirror with myself, rather than say what I thought to the person about what they said, yes! Do I still get a little thrill when selecting pick n mix, yes! Do I still worry about what people think ?! Yes! Do I still look in the mirror and wish I had beautiful English Rose skin rather than freckles? Yes! Do I still think that I’m a good driver but clearly my husband and daughter think I’m a serious danger on the roads! Yes! Am I still slightly OCD when keeping things tidy and still can’t sit happily if the newspaper is left on the floor! Yes! Clearly, even though I too have been around for 48 years oh sister I am still the same person, the difference, now we laugh out loud about our silly ways and wonder why others get really upset!! Have I changed over the years, no not really, age and wisdom means you deal with it differently!

  2. I’m wondering if your old friend would have made his remark if you had spent more time talking about the here and now. Those changes you mention would have become more obvious. When we reminisce, we tend to regress to what we once were. All the talk about what is familiar and shared drops both parties into the past, and everything and everyone feels the same as they always did.

  3. P.S. I was going to give you my favorite quote: “Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” Abraham Lincoln. I violate this rule every day! Leo

  4. Sally, I think (there are always exceptions, of course) that we do not change in our core beliefs and personality traits. I’m basicly the same guy I was fifty years ago, with one important difference; I am now accepting of those traits, good and bad. My perceptions of myself no longer dictate my happiness or unhappiness. I guess what I have said, is that basicly the only way I have really changed is by acquiring self acceptance without an accompanying sense of regret and self-blame. Many of my poems deal with aging and changing as we age. You might or might not find them interesting. Leo

    • Thanks for commenting Leo. I will certainly take a look…I agree with you on self-perception, also self-knowledge is important too, don’t you think?

      • I’ll have to think about that….it seems to me, on first consideration, they may be one and the same….our self-knowledge would, I think, be tainted by the way we perceived ourselves, so…my poor brain doesn’t deal well in abstractions. Sorry!

  5. I like this post and your blog very much. I think if we are open to the world and to new ideas and experience that we do grow and change. Since I began spending much more time writing, I feel as though I am finally becoming the person I have always wanted to be. I feel very different. I am not sure how obvious that is, though, or how readily we see growth and change in the people we know.

    • Thanks for commenting Margaret. I know what you mean about feeling different due to writing or whatever else in life and whether it is obvious to other people… I guess as long as you know, do other people’s opinions really matter?

  6. Hmmmm, really interesting conundrum this. I think I would have felt somewhat similar to yourself if someone told me that I hadn’t changed? The quote was Einstein I think, just in case this was driving you nuts (I always end up sitting up in bed at 3am shouting these things when I can’t remember). I’ve always liked the saying if you do what you always do, you’ll get what you’ve always got. I can’t remember where that originates from either… I think we do change but only if we allow ourselves to change. You have to embrace it and be radical enough to let it in. Because change is scary and can be painful.

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