Throughout my life my parents have always taught me that a child is a product of its environment. As time has passed and I have grown older and observed the people around me I have seen this fact become more evident. I believe that no one person can mimic another’s actions or behaviors so precisely that they become identical. A person’s personality seems to be an infinitely large empty pie plate. The actions or behaviors that people portray are a small slice that they have taken from others to fill up their plate. These actions and behaviors are taken from the influential people in their lives.
I do not think any one will ever have a full pie plate because it seems to me that we never stop learning new behaviors from people around us. As I have began to talk with my mom more and more through the years I have found her constantly telling me that I act or sound “just like my father”. Whenever I do or say something around my mom I wait to hear those four words, and it seems that she says them about every four minutes. Even though I mimic many of my father’s actions and behaviors, am I my father? In my mind I do not think I could ever be my dad.
I do know why I emulate him so much, because I look up to him. Quite a few sons say that sort of thing about their fathers. Even though it is a generic saying it seems to bring a unique feeling each time it is said. I am glad that I am able to take large pieces from my dad’s personality pie and add them to mine. It does not mean that I have not take anything from my mother’s, it just appears to me that a son imitates more of his father and a daughter imitates more of her mother. I know that this is a sexist statement, but in my observations I have found this to be exceedingly true.
What things make up the pieces of the personality pie that we copy? A good example would be self-concept/self-image. Self-concept is a person’s impressions, opinions and attitudes toward their physical, mental and emotional makeup. My father had always been a physically strong person. My physical strength that has come from him, as well as body shape, is more genetic than personality. Mentally my parents have continually shown signs of intelligence, and that is hard to fake. My dad has always been good at mathematics. Incidentally I am a mathematics major earning my degree for teaching.
My wanting to be a math teacher is not based on the fact that my father is good at math. I base my wanting to become a math teacher on what will make me happy in life. My parents support me in my decision and have faith that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I have a high opinion of my mental ability because I have seen the confidence my parents have in the decisions that they have made and do make. Therefore I believe that my mental ability is never-ending. The only things that can put a stop to my mental ability are my own fears.
Also whenever I have needed it, my parents have been there for emotional support both for me and each other. With ample physical strength, high mental ability and solid emotional support I feel that my pie sections are filled in this area. Another slice of the pie is the roles that I play in my day to day life. I am a student, a son, a projectionist, a tutor, a comedian, and many other things. The roles I play have a lot to do with what roles my parents have assumed throughout my life. I feel that there is a direct correlation between how many roles I assume at once with how many roles I have observed my parents undertaking.
Not all of the roles I have played or been subjected to have been positive ones. Not all roles that we gather and place into our pie meet the requirements of being a politically correct or socially acceptable. I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect role that people can affix themselves to. It seems that there will always be a flaw in some role that we dare or need to delve into. The intensely large pieces of the pie feature our values, attitudes and beliefs. This aspect of the pie can be difficult to evaluate. This section of the pie can be looked at in a funnel or a reverse funnel viewpoint.
People can start with the values, a broad outlook, and work their way through attitudes, slightly focused outlook, and end with beliefs, which is the application of the first two. This direction of actions is the funnel viewpoint. I personally believe in the reverse funnel direction. I see that children tend to have the same beliefs as their parents and with those beliefs they reflect their parents’ attitudes toward things. Until children are old enough, maybe high school, they are not able to see the bigger picture of what is in the world beyond what their parents have shown them.
Only when these children get older do they see the different values that others have. After they are able to see a little bit more of what is in the world they begin to follow the funnel direction of their value, attitude, and belief systems. Quite a few of my opinions, views and thoughts changed when I was able to see more of the world. My new found knowledge let me find a way of thinking that my parents may not have seen when they formed their views. I am not criticizing the views my parents have that conflict with mine. It just so happens that on some issues we happen to have a different outlook.
With these sections in place my pie is roughly half full. Though it does not make any sense, even with an infinite amount of area in my plate, I can fill most of it with a finite amount of something. The last, or what seems to be the last, piece of the pie that we fill includes the needs of affection, inclusion, and control. These three components of the pie relate well with one another. Everyone always likes to be in control, I know that I do. This is usually an inborn, not learned, behavior of all humans. However, I could be wrong; it could have something to do with assertiveness and/or aggressiveness, both learned behaviors.
I have known some people who do not want to be in control. Being in control means to have some power of some kind. People feel safe and secure when they are in control. I truly believe that some people think that the only people they can really trust are themselves. When they are in control, they know what is going to happen next, usually. With this control comes, in some way, inclusion and affection. If I am in control and I come up with ideas to participate in certain activities that I coordinate, then I am always in control of who is included. With the people that I include in my activities comes affection.
Although this chain of events is far from flawless, many people believe that if they are in control they can then call the shots and everyone will like them. I personally love to be in control. When I am in control I know that a smart move will be made. I enjoy being included in things, but half of the time I have to work or have to do something for school. Even though I am not included in the event I feel that my inclusion needs are met merely from the thought of the people wanting me to be involved. Although I am not included in as many things as I would like, my affection needs are met in other ways.
The inclusion involved with the affection is not always directly correlated. I am not quite sure how to explain how I go about getting my affection needs met. It is not really something I just go out to get as though I were shopping. I have never heard of affection in a can. Affection usually happens when I least expect it. This is gratifying to me and I am satisfied. As long as my pie is filled with some bits of control, inclusion and affection I will have no complaints. I feel that throughout my life I have grown up in an acceptable environment. I feel that my parents have filled my pie with as much knowledge and love that they could.
In my opinion, as a product of my environment, I do not feel I turned out badly. I am able to function in society easily and I am able to handle the roles that I need and want to assume. My pie will never be full by any means, but this does not bother me. I enjoy knowing that I will continue acquiring new behaviors and actions for the rest of my life. I do not want to try to fill it to try to become a completely perfect person, because there is no such thing. I feel that a little imperfection in my life gives me a little slice of happiness. I will add that one to my pie too.