I have always been fascinated with people and what makes them tick. Why are some people confident when others are not? Why are some perfectly okay with working for "The Man" and others have to work for themselves? How much of it is upbringing and how much is innate?
There is no doubt that part of how one is is related to innate qualities that we're born with. There is plenty of research with separated-at-birth identical twins to prove that. However, I tend to assume that more of who we are is based on our life experiences. Regardless of whether that's the correct assumption, I have proceeded with it through life, trying to understand people.
The current piece that I'm trying to figure out is why some people are constantly trying to go against the rules and defy authority (my husband), while others have it so ingrained in them to follow the rules that options that lie outside of the accepted realm aren't even considered (myself). Of course, I have several other specimens that I have investigated without their permission during this process of learning and trying to figure this stuff out, but it became interesting to me because he and I are so differing on this. I really like the balance, don't get me wrong -- it helps me branch out, and keeps him from going completely off the deep end. But why are we like that?
One reason, I think, is that I have moved so much in my life that I have developed this desire to fit in. More than a desire, really -- a deep-seeded need to be normal. I was the "new girl" in so many schools, and never fit in anywhere, that I tried to become a chameleon, to be like everyone else. My husband, on the other hand, went to the same school from first through twelfth grade, lived in the same house since he was two, and basically had the same friends his whole life. I think, as a result, he has always wanted to find a way to stand out from the crowd -- to not be lumped in with all the people he grew up with. He has looked for what makes him unique for his whole life. He is nearly desperate to figure out how he is totally different from anyone else. I think there are other things that play into this kind of pathology, having to do with parents, but that's a topic for another day.
For now, I'd say that my working hypothesis is that a stable home and friend life leads to a desire to buck the system, while constant upheaval in early life leads to more caution and desire to go with the accepted norms. Please discuss, and shred my hypothesis to pieces. It gives me more reason to continue to study this particular set of societal activities.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
5 weeks ago