The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Character as, “the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone’s personality.”
Throughout my life, my sense of character has been enriched and enhanced; pulled to the limits and tested; and probably like many, at times even called out and questioned by the very people who cause me to have to be strong, resilient and often times change who I truly am.
Why do we allow other people to attempt to change who we are? Why do we allow other people to bring us down to their level of unhappiness, depression, loneliness and desperation? Is it human nature to want to understand why someone dislikes you for no obvious reason? Is it more human nature to want to know why someone acts the way they do for no good reason whatsoever?
I have heard countless times in my life, “Don’t worry about what other people are saying about you.” But I would assume because of having the highest self-esteem, I don’t necessarily worry about what random people are saying about me, I worry more about what I know is being said about me by people I already know in my life but have absolutely no control over or no way of stopping in any way.
A normal person may say, then why worry about what you have no control over. Well, maybe I’m not as normal as I would hope or maybe more people are like me and just don’t want to admit it. Knowing things are being said about me, my husband, my family, and/or my close friends, leaves me agitated, angry and wanting to shout the truth from the rooftops because who do these people think they are to just spout lies only. Does this make them feel better at the end of the day? Does one more lie help them sleep a little cozier at night?
As with anyone else’s life, my life has been a series of events that have all led me to the place where I am today. A decision led me to the job at the Suburban Journals in Belleville, IL, which eventually led me to one day find myself standing in front of the man who would call himself my husband and the father of my children years later. But when I made the decision to take the Suburban Journals job, I was deciding between that and a marketing internship in St. Louis, it was my love for writing, people and journalism that won. If I had in fact taken that internship, then it would have led my life in a completely different path, meeting alternate people, making other choices and ultimately most likely having a different view from where I am right now.
But I believe the person I was then almost 15 years ago is still definitely somewhere inside of me, just much stronger, grown up, a few too many life lessons under her belt and enough memories to fill up more lifetimes than just one.
Now to come back to the idea of character. A person’s character is only grown stronger through life and the lessons learned. But if you choose to learn nothing from the hardships you have endured, the pain that has been inflicted upon you and only pass blame on everyone else around, your sense of character becomes hollow and as easily swayed as the breeze. You have no belief system to call your own built upon your own opinions and values. Your feelings really are not even your own either because you have always allowed yourself to be told how to feel and who to be in any given situation, not wanting to really know how to truly feel on your own. And behavior just becomes a learned trait because even a child will eventually learn to be quiet in quiet places, run when others are running and cry when others are cry.
Life is not only a series of events but also a series of actions. And while some people react, it is those who act that learn how to change the world around them before it changes them. The ones making the difference are not just the 20-year-old CEOs and the doctors curing diseases, but also the young parents who make every effort to instill a no stereotype, no prejudice, no differences type of atmosphere in their home. Every little bit can be an action, not just those people trying to cure cancer or find a way to live on the moon, rather those men and women who are just trying to help make the world a better place for the generations to come with the children they are raising. If a home of love, discipline, respect and guidance ever becomes a thing of the past, then society has completely focused on the wrong things and that ‘vintage’ thing needs to find its way back quickly.
Those Facebook pictures about growing up in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s should not just be reminders of the good old days. You know, “Remember when we drank from the hose; stayed out till the streetlights came on; played until our mothers called out the back doors to come to dinner; outside was our Nintendo, our Playstation, and/or our Xbox; and got yelled at by our parents for doing something wrong and understood the consequences of our actions?” Okay, so I have never read one exactly like this. But if I did, I’d share it in a heartbeat.
(I didn’t create this YouTube video, but it actually sums everything up pretty well.)
A person’s character is built from the decisions they make; the lessons they’ve learned; the actions they took; the people they’ve encountered; the broken hearts they’ve survived; the memories they worked hard to create; the friendships gained and lost; and the word after word written on the pages of their life story with notes along the margin.