Defining Oneself 

Anna Jacobson, Staff Writer

Every day we make decisions and choices that define who we are. Whether it be as small as choosing what to eat or something that will change one’s life forever, we embody those decisions, and they are ultimately what build who we are. However, what defines one is not completely dependent on individual decisions. Instead, there is a far more complex process to building someone, which involves a cultivation of various factors that are combined to create a person and how they interact with others.

In a person’s life a prominent defining factor is often something they take interest in. Junior Gabby Inman discusses her interest in volleyball when stating that she “wanted to keep playing because of all the friendships” she developed through her sport. Although Inman enjoys volleyball for more than just the people that she has had the opportunity to play with, her perspective on this sport is a vivid example of how the people around her have influenced a facet of her life. Our personal experiences, even the individual ones, are strongly influenced by those around us. 

This idea is further explored when sophomore Quentin Lynch talks about his interest with drones and making videos with them. Lynch states that “his dad likes” his videos and oftentimes “shares it with [his] family and friends.” The interest he shares with his family and the positive emotions he feels when doing said interest mirrors Inman’s experience with her sport. Both Lynch and Inman have developed a love for something that is influenced by the people around them in a positive way. Lynch’s family enjoys his videos, and Inman is able to meet new people through her sport. Furthermore, both of these people and their activities are influenced in a positive way because they receive positive reinforcement when they participate in their interests. Overall, this serves to prove that the interests that work to define who we are will be influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. Therefore, we pick up various hobbies, mannerisms, interests, and other factors that define us from the people around us. 

An article from Psychology Today explains this further when elaborating on how we as humans tend to internalize the values of the people around us. The idea that humans embody the various opinions or interests of others, helps to discover what defines us as humans. Through this process we pickup the traits we like about others and reject the ones we dislike, and both of these phenomena are a reaction to someone else and our perspective of them.

Not only do interests provide a way for one to build relationships and share a part of their life with others, but they also help define one a way that focuses more on internal improvement. The University of Arkansas explores this by explaining the various traits that interests help build such as patience, confidence, and persistence. The ways in which one dedicates themselves to an activity they enjoy creates a foundation for useful traits that they will need throughout their life. This is because to be good at something one must take the time, which reflects their ability to be patient, to learn and fail, which describes their confidence and persistence, in order to learn. Furthermore, this proves that interests work in multiple ways when helping define someone. One receives positive reinforcement from external groups pushing them to continue their passion and, in a more subtle way, they build a personality that reflects what they learned from their interests. 

Additionally, this process is illustrated through the different perspectives we develop subconsciously. An article by UK Essays examines this by describing the three types of identities humans have. The first one is the personal identity, which is one that is dependent one how we view ourselves. The second one is family identity, which could be described as the values we learned from our family. The last identity is social, which is the way we think other people see us as an individual. For the purpose of this article, personal identity and family identity will be the main focus. Personal identity can facilitate one’s understanding of the internal growth they have shown through one facet of their life, in this case it would be interests. The family identity focuses on how externally we are all influenced by others. 

The external influences we experience, through any type of interest, explains the ways in which we are defined as human beings because this process works in a cycle. For example, the way you may be influenced by another is the same way another may be influenced by you. Senior Naomi Sneath explains her opinion on this by stating that “everyone is kind of a mixup of everyone else.” Sneath’s perspective on how we as humans are all a culmination of each other helps to explain the way we define ourselves. The concept of adopting or rejecting a trait someone else has and how it works in a cycle proves that our personalities and, therefore, our defining moments are largely an effect of external experience. Sophomore Dominic Bennett elaborates on the same concept through describing his own interest. Bennett explains that the environment of his choir groups is one where everyone is influenced by others’ energy. He states that “all of a sudden everyone is very motivated to do super well” when they notice a choir member improving. The way groups of people feed off of the energy that everyone is giving represents the same idea that we as a human race become the traits that we like when we see them in others.

Both internally and externally people are defined by the influences around them. The enjoyment of an activity, the motivation to do better, or even the small things we do as humans that influence the people around us are all essential factors in the development of a person. However, though we may adopt similar traits that others have, it must be acknowledged that the ways we represent and embody these traits express individuality. The process of growing into who you are is a complex idea because it not only is strongly affected by the people around us but also by the ways we interpret each experience which is unique to everyone