People don’t change, they reveal who they really are.
―Source unknown (by me)
In recent months I’ve seen that quote plastered on Facebook by multiple people and pages. I found the quote intriguing until I really sat down and thought about it. While it’s true that many of us hide our true selves from most others for fear of judgement, or perhaps discovery of ill-intentions, do we really never change? Are we always the same person no matter what events or experiences attempt to shape us?
I speak from my experiences only, but I am a different person than I was in the past. I’m a different person now than I was at 20, 30, or even just last week. As I’ve gotten older I have changed dramatically. Sixteen years of raising children has increased my patience considerably. Being paralyzed by depression has humbled me and taught me that control is only an illusion. Being a part-time father has taught me to value every second I have with my children and not to take my time with them for granted. Following bloggers of different races, genders, and nationalities has taught me tolerance and given me the ability to see multiple points of view and become less judgmental. Rushing into relationships, being hurt, and hurting others has taught me the folly of impatience and volatility of emotional attachments. All of these lessons have caused me to change how I approach and react to new situations.
Having experienced these transformations due only to events in my life, I find it hard to believe that no one else has changed. With each new experience, with each new lesson learned, we change. Perhaps, at our core, we remain the same (I will always be the guy who attempts to diffuse a tense situation with a bit of humor, for instance), but as a whole we are always evolving. Life shapes us. Events mold us. Sometimes life can completely demolish you, and when it does you will emerge on the other side a completely different person.
Most of us have been broken at some point or another. We have lost a parent, sibling, or child. We have been divorced. We have been raped or abused. We have experienced the worst that life has to offer. How can you not change with all of the trials and tribulations life imposes? How can you not emerge from the death of a loved one or the loss of a lover a changed person? I just don’t believe that’s possible.
On the flip side, most of us have fallen in love. We have gotten married. We have become parents. We’ve welcomed nieces, nephews, and grandchildren into this world. We got that promotion. We achieved goals we set for ourselves. We have experienced the best that life has to offer. How can you fall in love or welcome a child into this world and remain the same person? You’d have to be a robot or something.
To sum up, I call bullshit on this quote and the myriad of other quotes which assert that people do not change. We are always changing. Perpetually evolving. I would counter this quote with a far more truthful quote:
“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”
You know it’s true because Heraclitus is a Greek philosopher, and those guys were never wrong. Seriously, it’s ludicrous to think people don’t change. I’m not even the same person I was when I started writing this and you’re not the same person you were when you started reading this. My words have just changed you. And me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but there you are.