I've been thinking a lot about change as of late. After many difficult situations, I've come to realize that I haven't changed much over the years, that many of my efforts at self-improvement have fallen flat, or at least gone in far different directions than I could have ever conceived.
I glanced at some old journal entries I wrote in the early 2000s and found that I'm essentially the same person I was years ago. I still care about friends and family in the same way; I still struggle with being social; I still think somewhat independently, but struggle to express it. My writing has improved, and I'd like to think that I've improved overall, but I'm still essentially the same person.
The BigThink Think Again interview with Sir David Hare filled my brain with a whole bunch of medium-sized thoughts, particularly in regards to change. Of course they excited me because they confirmed a few of my biases. Nonetheless, it's always nice when smart people can confirm my biases in a much clearer manner than I can myself.
One part of this interview that stood out to me focuses on the way we don't change very much through our lives. Hare speaks,
When I was young, I certainly thought I had a malleable character. I thought I could achieve things, and once I'd achieve those things, I'd feel better. It has never happened. And after all these years—10 or so years of teaching, 9 years of marriage, 9 years of fatherhood, 40 pounds gained and lost in 7 years, a CD "released," thousands of social media posts—I'm essentially the same person. Hell, even as all my cells have apparently been replaced, it seems like I'm the same person.
This discourages me a little.
Recently, it has been made clear just how set-in-genes my character is. I have really pushed myself to change some of my habits and ways of thinking, but I haven't seemed to be able to do it. I've tried to battle off old prejudices, old habits, old ways-of-being-in-the-world. But I'm starting to think that I'm fighting a losing battle.
Besides, a bunch of these battles might be misguided in the first place. Who am I to decide which comparatively OK traits need to be adapted in which way? And who am I to hand that responsibility over to somebody else? Just because I think, at some point, that a trait needs adjustment doesn't mean that it's a feasible, or even necessary, endeavor.
So I'm at an impasse with my own sense of well-being.
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