One of this weekend’s beach musings was about the theory that the personality traits you developed by around age seven generally stuck with you through your adult life.
One friend said this is a fact in her case, she’s still the bossy, assertive way she was before and likes things a certain way to this day.
The study examined these four personality attributes: talkativeness (verbal fluency), adaptability (coping well with new situations), impulsiveness, and self-minimizing behaviour (being humble to the point of minimizing one’s importance).
Personally, from what I can remember, at that age I was grasping the concept of popularity and recognising I wasn’t quite in that crowd. I was trying to tone down (self-minimizing) the unnecessary talking (I was very talkative) and hyperactivity while at the same time, trying to live up to the expectations people had for me to still be that way. I wanted to fit in any way possible, even taking the role of “the funny/silly one”. I would be resistant to change at first but I could warm up to it, and I was always a very happy, cheerful child, very independent and observant as well.
According to the study, the talkative children tended to show interest in intellectual matters, try to control situations, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence in adult years. Children who rated as highly adaptable would tend to behave cheerfully as middle-aged adults and show interest in intellectual matters as well. More impuslive youngsters were more inclined to speak loudly and display a wide range of interest and end up being talkative as adults while less impublsive children tended to be fearful or timid, keeping others at a distance and expressing insecurity as adults. Finally, the children who were characterised as self-minimising were likely to express guilt and seek reassurance. They would speak negatively about themselves and express insecurity as adults.
Okay, so all of that isn’t quite set in stone, life events can still influence changes in our behaviours.
As an adult I’m still a creature of habit, still cheerful, and still independent and observant. I’m a little controlling, maybe a lot, I love plans and sticking to them as much as possible, and “spur-of-the-moment” makes me anxious. I stopped trying to fit in. I began being proud of the changes I was maturing into, and became determined to connect with people who were more like me and would accept me the way I wanted to be. In a sense, recognising the place I hold in the world, I became humble, not timid, maybe a bit shy or reserved and I stopped talking as outgoingly as I used to, only really opening up when I was comfortable with the people I was sharing my thoughts with.
Try it! Think back to how you were at that age and examine the ways you’ve grown and developed, whether you’ve changed or not.