Nature or Nurture? Fate or Free Will? How are our lives shaped?

As someone from a relatively working class background who has managed to get a Masters degree and train to be a teacher, I often wonder how our identity is formed. Were my choices shaped by my parents’ aspirations for me? Or by my teachers? Friends? The media?

It’s a complex issue, and one which has long been debated.

Nevertheless, as I get older and I am continuing to change, I am growing to be of the opinion that everything we do and are is shaped by our experiences and the people around us. I have two case studies to exemplify my point:

1. I changed when I went to university.

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Just a normal night out in freshers…

Not only did I learn a whole host of things that none of my friends from school or my parents knew, but I was also immersed in a completely different culture. I gained  my first true sense of independence, which meant that I grew in confidence and I became willing to try new things. My friends and family were shocked by how much I changed. Hopefully for the better!

2. My personality changes depending on who I am with.

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Me (left) and my flatmate (right).

Last year I shared a flat with one of my best friends. She is lovely, but she is most definitely a worrier. However, this had a positive impact on my own personality: to compensate for her anxiety, I feel that I adopted a calmer persona than I normally might.

The opposite is true this year. I have since moved in with my partner, who is so laid back he is almost horizontal. While this makes for a much more relaxing living experience, I feel like it gives me the opportunity to worry more.

 

I don’t like being a worrier. That’s one part of me that I desperately wish I could change. I wish I could live in the moment and let tomorrow worry about itself. I wish I could trust that things will sort themselves out.

And maybe I can…

I watched an amazing TED talk today from Amy Cuddy in 2012, which has given me hope that we can change ourselves for the better. She argues that if we change our body language, we can have a positive, measurable effect on our mind, and therefore our behaviour. I sincerely encourage you all to watch it – it will change how you think about yourself!

So, just as I feel like I’ve changed my identity within the British class system, maybe there’s hope that I can become less of a worrier. And more like this…

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