In the 250 Words series, one question is posed to the RU Student Life bloggers, who each provide their own perspective.
Question 2: Do you believe people can change?
Janine: We Are Who We Are
In my experience and what I’ve observed in my 19 years of life, I think we have the same grounded personality or character as we go through life. Certain situations or life events may influence the way we behave, but our grounded person that we are, remains true to us. That being said, that doesn’t mean we don’t grow and learn from life’s obstacles. But just because we grow as we get older, also doesn’t mean we entirely change as a person. Our perspective may alter on a certain world issue, or we may learn how to react differently to certain situations, but we are who we are.
An 80-year-old elder is still the same person from when they were 18, not physically and sometimes not mentally, but them as a being on this earth hasn’t changed. Yes, they’ve grown wiser as they’ve lived through 80 years of life but they’ve still remained themselves.
The challenge I think we face is finding yourself and coming to terms with who we are in our life. As an infant, our being is malleable and outside influences build onto our character. As we grow up, I think people think we “change” because we try to figure out who we are, but the reality is, we don’t “change” ;we grow, we learn, and we discover our true selves.
Jessica: Don’t Hold Your Breath
My former relationship gave me a lot of insight into this question. When I got together with my ex, I was aware that his values and lifestyle habits did not align with my own. “That’s okay,” thought silly, naive me. “He’ll come around, especially under my influence.”
Throughout the course of our relationship, it became apparent that there were things about me that he wanted to change as well. In short, we both failed to change our ways and our relationship ended. I have learned two valuable lessons from this that can be applied to any relationship, romantic or not:
1. People can change, but only if they want to.
The desire to change must come from within. If you are changing to please someone else more than to please yourself, disappointment (and probably resentment) is likely to ensue. External support is important, but useless in the absence of internal motivation.
Pro tip: If they said they are going to change, but their subsequent behaviour tells you otherwise, you’re in for a world of hurt.
2. “You need to date someone’s reality, not their potential.”
I pulled that line out of a self-help book that I read in my darker days, but I have vowed to carry that wisdom with me into future relationships. The fact of the matter is this: what you might want for someone may not be what they want for themselves.
Final remarks: If you’re waiting around for someone to change because you want them to, don’t hold your breath.
Zahra: Change Is Inevitable
I often ask myself if I’m still the same person I was in high school. Scrolling down my Facebook timeline to 2009, I have come to the conclusion of… drum roll please… HELL NO. I’m so much smarter, stronger, and sexier now more than ever, obviously. Shoutout to puberty.
Change is inevitable. Just as leaves fall and winter lingers at the end of each orbit, people are in no way immune to nature’s powers. People do change, maybe not wholly each time, but gradually it’s possible. But with that said, one has to be willing to. If you move to Germany for 5 years and never bother to have a conversation with locals, you will probably not learn the German language. One’s setting, life events, and self motivation all contribute to personal evolution.
Conforming to social norms is essential in the game of survival of the fittest, and fittest is usually in power or majority or in this context, positivity. But just because someone has changed does not mean they automatically get a chance to assimilate back into society, or your heart. Though I do believe in second chances, there are some situations where the harm principle rules out do-overs. And sometimes, the line whether to test the change or not is blurrier than fifty shades of grey.
Do you think people can change? Share your answers in 250 words with us, shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or even try condensing your answer to a Tweet @RUStudentLife!