TBT Thoughts: Do We Change?

About three months ago, a high school friend sent me a picture I had given her during our junior year. On the back, I’d done as many high school students used to. I’d written her a personal message. In case you can’t read my writing, it says:

059110f2-5e67-415b-bf66-2696217ab88eTo –:

Even though you never call anyone, and never tell anyone anything, and never go anywhere with anyone: u still the homie!

Love, Kathy

c/o ‘91

Okay. Let’s take a pause to commemorate 20th century rituals, such as signing pictures!

Now, back to my point. When I read what I’d written over two decades ago, I laughed. How much had I changed from 1990? I considered this person a friend, and I still do, yet for some reason, I had to call her out on her non-friend like behavior. Sound familiar? It does to me. I’ve written countless blogs that focus on relationships and understanding how we treat one another within those relationships.

Based on what I wrote, it seems to have been my lifelong quest.

Reading what I’d written reminded me of a quote. Loosely paraphrased it says, it’s not so much that we need to find ourselves, as we need to remember who we were, or something like that.

I agree. Much of our childhood and adolescent years are spent becoming acculturated and acclimated to our surroundings. We learn what we can, cannot, should, or should not say, and in some cases, do. Initially, our parents take on the role of ensuring we’re properly socialized. Once we begin school and other activities, society takes over. Some of these lessons are explicit, like don’t swear in public. Others are implicit, like girls should be quiet and demure.

One lesson that stands out for me is from my mother. She would always tell me, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” She tried to instill some sense of etiquette to my tone. By my mid-30s, and after watching others’ reactions in conversations, I began to self-censor not only my tone, but also my speech, because try as I may, I can’t seem to say things with sugar or honey. And if someone was going to worry about how I said something, it was best not to say it at all. This lasted two years. For me, self-censorship causes a buildup of unused words, and that’s not good for my health.

I’m believing more and more that we are born knowing who we are and what we need to do. Like the paraphrased quote above, we just need to remember who, what and why?

Eventually, I found my way back to who I am. Blogging has helped. While I do edit words for grammar and usage, I don’t suppress my tone or what I want to say. Likewise, I never intend to hurt someone’s feelings, so in person, sometimes I pause or exhale before speaking. But I make sure not to mince words. Finally, I’ve accepted the idea that if you’re focused on how I say something, instead of what I’ve said, then maybe we don’t need to communicate. And that’s okay. Maybe you’ll find someone who says things in a manner in which you can receive the message.

So, what do you think? Do we change over time? Are we taught to fit in, which causes us to change? Have you had to re-learn who you once were?

49 thoughts on “TBT Thoughts: Do We Change?

  1. I think as we get older we become less wrapped up in trying to fit in, confidence often comes with experiences and age – leaving us less needy of approval from others. I do agree with your mum about tone, and how you say things – it’s an energy and other people absorb that energy, regardless of what you meant with your words – basically, how we make people feel when we speak to them is more powerful than the mere words, and that feeling can have a long lasting effect 🔆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this comment Cherryl! I definitely agree that the older we get, the less we worry about fitting in. Life’s too short to be concerned with that at all. However, I’ve kind of let go of the notion that we can “make people feel” a certain way. More and more, I’ve noticed that we oftentimes already feel a specific way/emotion and then someone’s words trigger it within us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean on a different level….but I do think we all have an energy and most people who have feelings are affected by this as standard – even if only for a short time, whether good or bad – it’s like when someone does something thoughtful for you or is able to make a point in a way that doesn’t hurt someone’s feelings – it can really lift the mood – or showing an interest in someone and trying to be helpful (showing you care) rather than just trying to get something out of them e.g. in a work situation – how you make people feel definitely affects morale and I think it is very powerful – especially within any type of relationship. Another example – people can make us smile and feel nice inside with an unexpected kind word or gesture – and we will probably remember how that person made person made us feel at that moment or during a period of our life – for a long time – just like a rude/critical/cold/consistently negative person can leave us with a certain feeling during or after the encounter 🔆🙂 Have blessed week/end x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow it reminded me of my notes on the back of photos! We lost those 90s rituals! We lost so many things actually, replaced by fast communication. I have been to what you have written about. Somehow we don’t change but we do. Luckily, today we all look better today 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good question on many levels. It is impossible to change our personalities unless through a mental illness. On the other hand, it cannot be disputed that people have the ability to alter their behavior. Yet we are still the same person physically, anatomically and mentally even though we learn to modify behavior. My two cents. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is what I’m saying! Thank you for clarifying it. Personalities rarely change, but behavior can and oftentimes does (through society or other means). Thanks for stopping by here!

      Like

  4. I think we hit a certain age and begin (if we are lucky) to circle back to what we knew we were born for when we were kids. The sooner we can do that the better but for some it takes a long time – others just follow their heart from a young age

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, it’s that last group that I want to know more about…is there a formula? Is it just personality? Are some stronger when it comes to following their hearts and ignoring society? All these questions keep me up at night 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it is their upbringing being blessed to have the support to be themselves the schooling that supported that and the friends – I think you are either delivered into that set or – like perhaps us – we pick up the lessons along the way that allow us to circle back and maybe be better than we ever dreamed as kids – who knows – whatever and whoever we are is just what we are supposed to be so..keep going – oh I’m so pleased to have found a fellow thinker that ponders all this stuff – keeps us busy for sure 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So true. Retired and 67 years old I have had my true self reaffirmed in my choice of hobbies and volunteer work. I mildly regret not pursuing one of the careers I leaned towards as a teen. I enjoyed the building trades and was attracted to helping people as a first responder. Instead I was expected to attend college and made a career in finance and real estate. In retirement my volunteer work is more closely aligned to my original goals and I realize how happy that makes me and how I should have followed my passions as a young man. Thank you for your insights and your shared thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this comment Bob! I’m glad it resonates and what you’ve said is accurate for me as well. While no one pressured me to get degrees and jobs, it did seem like that’s what I was supposed to do, and in that, I’d forgotten what I liked to do.

      Like

  6. Your honesty is exactly what attracted me to your blog in the first place. Which means I’m SO glad that you have learned how to express your true self. And I agree, blogging helps. Or at least, it’s certainly helped me get in touch with my true self.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you Ann! I think blogging helps so much because it’s both low and high stakes…low because most of us don’t know one another and high because, well, it’s international.

      Like

  7. Totally agree. I always tell people to focus on what I’m saying rather than how I’m saying it because sometimes the message gets lost in translation if you’re focusing on how I said it if the message is the same. I have to express my truth and what you do with it is up to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Think it depends on the person. I never call it change. I call it covering up/conforming or growing. The latter is an extension of our characteristics in which I believe we should aspire to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Brilliant post, Kathy. Do we change over time? I think yes. I doubt if we can go through life experiences without changing. But there are still ways I haven’t changed. Ways which only my long-term / childhood friends know about, like the note to your friend. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marvelous post, dear Katherin.
    I was just thinking the other day how many teenagers are misunderstood and told to be ‘normal’, while they are just trying to advocate their truth. Yes, lets start listening to WHAT is said again, instead of HOW its said and seek to understand each other.
    I believe each of us is here on earth with a unique purpose. Some of us know it at a young age, some need a lifetime to find out what that purpose is. That’s ok, I feel. Because the pressure people put on each other causes stress and that is the worst what can happen to a human being in general, health-wise. Whatever one choose to do, coming from a place of integrity will guide you through life just fine.
    Do we change? Yes, change is inevitable, its part of life. How one handles the changes, that is the challenge, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree Patty! I think we’re missing out on one another’s greatness and gifts when we ask each other to change in order to suit our needs or circumstances.

      And I also agree with that last bit. How we handle the changes, and I’ll add, the requests for changes, matters quite a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You speak to me so clearly and also make me think of I will ever be able to use the tone that I mean, actually say exactly that I wish. Though I operate from a core truthfulness, I always attempt to soften, veil and wrap my messages in some cloth of love and kindness – it is all good until I am actually keeping too much in, that would become unhealthy like you say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you mean. I just listened to an Alicia Keyes interview where she described how she doesn’t know how to get angry. I know that’s not what you’re saying, it reminds me of her because, like you, she ends up suppressing parts of what she really wants to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. “For me, self-censorship causes a buildup of unused words, and that’s not good for my health.” I understand this quote. It is funny, but you are very serious.
    I love this blog post. My grandmother would say the same thing to me, “It is not what you say, it is how you say it.” I still don’t sugar coat. I have a line in a poem that says, “I like me, If you don’t, then maybe in my world you don’t need to be.” I am also remembering who I am. That little girl did not bite her tongue. I was also taught that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so I am the first to say what most won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love this post! 👍

    My siblings and friends enjoy telling me how little I’ve changed. 😄 Still not sure if it’s praise or judgement. 😁

    My mom was another “how-not-what” mom, and maturity and the wisdom of the years have taught me how to say what needs to be said without the universe imploding… or to keep it moving and ignore the subject at hand. (Still working on that part.)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love what you wrote here, Katherin! I’m a big believer in expressing honest feelings, after years of suppression. Definitely healthier. I also liked your mother’s quote, which goes along with something I also follow – it’s all in the delivery.
    I apply that mostly to anger. I have issues going back to childhood. Anger terrified me and that also led to suppression. I never fought in my marriage. Even with friends, holding everything in has led to numbness and a lack of intimacy.
    The motto that I follow now is using “I statements” – that truly allows for me to say what I want without being accusatory and putting another person on the defensive. Trust me, it isn’t always easy to remember this, but being aware of it has made a huge difference during conflict.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Judy! I think we’ve suffered from similar circumstances. I have heard of I statements and I agree these help. Also, I’ve stopped telling people “you made me feel like…” and instead take ownership.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, you’re right on! I was definitely taught to be a nice girl and to find a nice man. Here I am forty some years later, still in a relationship with the same man, even though we’ve had our affairs and mountains of ups and downs. I know I’m not the girl my mom wanted me to be!! I’m more like my dad, who had all the freedom in the world to be social, creative, curious, and fun! However, he never accepted my ways – educating myself, being liberal, being a feminist – I think deep down, he loved me for my ways, but being so different from my mother, he would have put me on a pedestal instead of her, which wouldn’t have worked.
    I am happy to know who I am and I remember my childhood and youth very well (I have diaries, too). Now I’m writing about it;)
    Thanks for this entry! I will write an essay about it today:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I actually wrote a poem called, “I apologize ahead of time for not being who you wanted me to be” so I completely understand the sentiment. I’m looking forward to seeing what you write!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. We moved every two years when I was a kid, so I learned to constantly reinvent myself. That said, I still have friends dating back to childhood, so I guess parts of me are essentially the same. We are a work in progress, I’d say.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We definitely change, because every experience we have alters the way we view things. I always say that after that initial “first love” you never love the same way again cause once your heart is broken it never completely heals. I think we spend the first half of our lives conforming, and the second half being true to ourselves because we realize the only important thing is being who we are

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree wholeheartedly…

    We are in an omnipresent state of evolution and it is imperative that we are active participants in that process, otherwise we become victims rather than victors.

    I’ve learned on my journey – that humilty is a key component in making sure that those lessons take hold.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s