We are more than the sum of our parts

Today’s blog is a response to this blog by my friend Chelsea. In it she laments that we are not individuals, but merely represent one example of a limited number of personality traits. That there is nothing unique about us.
Oh Chelsea, let me refute that statement right now and right here.
Yes, it is true that there are finite number of personality traits. There is however a much larger number of possible combinations thereof. That number is also not infinite, but pretty darn big. And guess what? Your inborn personality traits are just one part of the puzzle. They are just one building block of what makes you, you.

You are also an aggregate of all your experiences, of all the things you have seen, heard, lived through and heard of. All the people you have ever known have an influence on you. So I would not only go so far to say, that you are an individual, a person not like any other, I would even say that the you of today is different from the you of yesterday and definitely different from the you of ten years ago. You aggregated new experiences, you spent time, finding yourself. You learned.
Your personality traits are helpful guidelines to deal with your experiences. You can put an introvert and an extrovert in a similar situation and most likely the introvert will deal with the situation one way, while the extrovert deals with it in another. You can somewhat predict behavior, based on personality type. But don’t count on it being right all the time. Maybe an introvert will speak up, because she has learned that she won’t get her needs met otherwise. Maybe an extrovert will stay quiet, because she has learned that if you offer solutions you most likely get stuck with the work as well. So they make decisions that go against type, but make enough sense within their framework of experience.
Also, who is around a person will change their reactions, because many things can override the initial impulse. Let me give you a personal example. I have a minor dog phobia. Whenever I see a dog, I enjoy a certain level of distance between it and me. I was very good at avoiding dogs for the first decades of my life. My daughter however loves dogs. She has done so since she was a toddler. Which meant that the kid would run up and hug dogs that were at least a head taller than her. You can bet your sweet behind that I was always right there, to make sure my girl didn’t get hurt. Phobia or no phobia, I had to protect my child.
So yes, Chelsea, you’re an individual. You’re the only person with your personality traits that has experienced all the things that you have experienced. Your personality has formed, using those experiences and it will keep forming, reforming and developing until the day you die. The best thing you can do is give it a lot of experiences to work with. Travel widely, meet new people, read good books.
Be your own, unique self.

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About scratchingcat

Writer, mother, friend.
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One Response to We are more than the sum of our parts

  1. wysiwyg88 says:

    This is similar to what I said however your post put me in mind of the metaphor of never being able to step into the same river twice. personalities to some extent are amorphous depending a long list of different stimuli. Fascinating really

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