Lately, I've been looking at patterns in my behavior, in my personality, and I've been drawing all of these parallels to my childhood. It brings up the whole nature vs. nurture debate, among other questions. But I do wonder--how much of our personality is a result of birth order, parenting, and genetics?
I am the youngest: my brother is five years older, and my sister eight. Growing up, I spent a lot of time alone with my imagination. We didn't have a TV, so between the neighborhood kids, cow pond across the street, and my dolls, I had to figure out how to keep myself entertained. Which I was good at. I still have vivid memories of the various stories I would make up and try to live out through play. It was a great way to grow up.
I am 29 now, and I still need my alone, imaginative time. A lot of it, actually. Sometimes I wonder--had I not fallen last in the birth order, would I have a different sense of responsibility for others? Because I often have a hard time with that--feeling responsible for others. I'm very much a do-it-yourself and deal-with-it kind of personality. I've never had to look out for younger siblings or be concerned about anyone other than myself, so I would say that perhaps that facet of my personality has been very much engendered by birth order.
The more years I spend single and childless, the more deeply ingrained I become in my patterns of needing to be alone and wanting to dictate my own schedule and priorities. And I'm comfortable. I love that all I need on the weekend is my bike or running shoes and some trails--nothing more. Maybe a glass or two of wine and a good meal, of course, but I can be content by myself.
My need for my terms is an ingrained personality trait that can wreck havoc on relationships, among other things. I'm social, too, and I definitely have deep cravings for people and activities, but when I'm unsure, or trying to block out the world and adjust, I retreat into my more comfortable me-time and shun any other forms of interaction.
I'm not sure why I feel such a compelling need to analyze all of this publicly right now. I suppose to bring clarity for myself. I see some of my patterns, and I know, that for whatever reason--childhood, genetics, whatever--they're ingrained now. They're in. They've been in and don't want to check out. But I recognize that if I wish to move forward and develop deeper relationships, I need to let go of some of my tendencies that cling, white-knuckled, to my freedom, independence, and responsibility for myself, only.
I guess it's all a balance, right? I see a lot of women who are especially apt at complete self-sacrifice, until they find they have no identity outside of their homes, marriages, or children. So letting go of some independence in order to grasp love, while retaining that inner person, would be the ultimate balance. I suppose.
But it's hard to move forward when you're stuck in who you have become.