As time goes on I’m starting to realise that despite time and external influences, everyone has a default setting. Sure there are moments when you divert from your course. Often in these times you meet new people, learn new perspectives, explore different facets of your personality, and find new interests. But often these sides of you are temporary – they inevitably fall away, leaving you with the person you were before.
Take for instance How I Met Your Mother (spoilers ahead). Barney throughout the series undertook a drastic change, transitioning from ‘manwhore’ to Robin’s husband. But in the series finale we learn he reverted back to his old ways. Marriage confined him, and went against his nature. So much so that he and Robin were divorced within three years. I realise this is fiction, but but bear with me.
This really calls into question the validity of enduring change. We may make sweeping declarations like I’m becoming a vegan, or I’m going to quit drinking! But let’s be honest, how often do these things last? Perhaps it’s a lack of perseverance and discipline, but I constantly find myself back at base camp. I firmly believe in trying new things, but afterwards I’m very confident I’ll still be the same person.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice thought. I’d love to say I’ll go to the gym, and once I start, I’ll never look back. But the truth is, I’ll always hate exercise. It’s arduous, every part of me aches the next day, and for some reason I usually end up gaining weight.
Watching people try to change fundamental things about themselves is interesting. Mentally I’m always making bets on how long it will last, because at the end of the day you are who you are. And, what’s wrong with that? We’re constantly encouraged to change things about ourselves – we should be doing X, Y & Z on a daily basis for our health and happiness. But we’re also told to embrace our flaws and love who we are. It’s a spectacular contradiction that fuels insecurities, and leaves many at a loss.
Of course there are things that I’ll always work on: I’ll never stop learning and I will always try to use my manners more. But I think the rest is here to stay.