Jay Barnes had a really interesting poll in his livejournal a while back, one that gave me much pause for thought. The question was, “Do you believe, excepting confidence in your abilities, that your personality is significantly different than it was when you were 8 years old?” It’s a very interesting question and one that I thought about for a long time before responding no.
I mentioned this poll to Pecan, and at a house poker game last Friday she remarked that I couldn’t have been that different at eight. To be honest, that’s probably a fair assessment, though I may have been a bit more reserved and shy at eight than I am today, but that’s the confidence issue that was mentioned in the question.
If it seems far-fetched, just think of what I wrote about fun. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve heard “Where do you get so much energy?” I don’t think it’s that i have more energy than the average person, or that i work less, but really the issue is that I try to immerse myself in what’s interesting and have fun. Even the sustainability stuff I’m working on for school, while it’s not “fun” in the jumping-in-puddles sense, is a fascinating set of problems and concepts to wrestle with, enough so that I come home ranting and raving about it, excited and wanting to share.
The only things I did a lot at eight that I no longer really show interest in are formal dancing and ice skating. Well, I suppose I no longer make gimp bracelets either (I was a big fan of the butterfly), and my penmanship is much neater and smaller. Fine motor skills are still somewhat developing back then, right?
There is a huge area of difference in life between when I was eight and now, and something that really has a lot to do with overall life satisfaction and the ability to have fun. When I was eight and living in Randolph, going to school in Milton, and doing extracurriculars all over the place, I did not feel that I had peers in my class. I didn’t have peers in my class, and I was heavily rejected by most of the folks around me in the various activities I did. I had that creativity, but true joy came only in fleeting moments playing with the Walgren boys down the street, or going to a petting zoo. I wasn’t a happy kid, partly due to no sense of community.
Today, I have that community. While a some of my peers think I have too much fun, there are just as many people in my life who seem geared to get the most joy out of their existence. I can have stimulating conversations about the critters I work with (even if the person doesn’t know much of anything about what I’m talking about specifically), or the program I’m studying with people who will listen, share ideas and personal experience, and help me to grow and learn. I can do my art and share, and learn, and feel absolutely free to jump in a puddle without the worry that used to hang over my head when I was eight.
So maybe when it comes down to it, I’m more of a kid now than I was back then.