Personality Traits: Do I Really Want To Be Like My Parents?

Have you ever had that moment- when the preacher in church says something that made you feel really guilty? I had one of those moments last week, well, maybe not exactly but the concept is the same. The thing is, I was working on a school assignment – my Organizational Behaviour course, the topic was on Personality determinants and structure. I was busy enjoying my lesson when I came across this line;

Contrary to many beliefs, heredity factors are indeed major determinants of personality.

The moment I came across that line, every brain activity in my head stopped for what felt like a century. I felt scared…extremely scared. Despite my brain seeming to have logged off, I could smell and taste a strange bitterness in my mouth. Something felt wrong.

And something was definitely wrong. I tried to reboot my brain but it didn’t help that the next topic I came across was one covering Sigmund Freud. That man had deep psychological issues that no psychologist in his or this era could diagnose. The fact that I instantly connected to one of his theories scared the red out of my blood cells immediately.

I wondered to myself; did I really want to be like my mother and father. The first response I gave myself was a resounding NO. At that particular moment, I felt like I did not wish to have any of my parent’s traits. But before you think that I had very bad parents, let me tell you that I had the best mom in the world! So what about my father?  You ask. Believe me I am asking myself the same question too.

It is no secret for both my family and friends that my father and I weren’t close. But that is not to say he was a bad father. We just never saw eye to eye due to a whole other bunch of reasons. However, my mother was in-love with him and she stayed by his side until such a time he decided forever had run its course with her. She still stayed faithful to him to the very end, God bless her soul.

The things that make me not want to be like my father are things he did that I never liked. I do not know if it makes sense but generally speaking, my father was a good man, he loved a good laugh, he was jovial, extremely intelligent to the point of madness, he was good looking (I think?), tall… and whenever I watched him with my big sister, I could feel and see his fatherly love. To that extent he was a good father, very loving. But then again who wouldn’t love my sister? It could also be that she made it easy for him to love her and I built walls around me to completely shut him out. The evidence seems to support that assertion.

The other good thing I remember about my father is that he was a good spender. After his retirement, he broke all possible world records by dancing on all his benefits during the time it took him to actually receive them and get home to celebrate with his wife of over 20 years.

Even still, despite driving himself into bankruptcy, he was still able to have money and for years I watched him try one business after another. I still do not know where he kept finding the capital. Even if it was debt, I think he had some great skills on him to convince whoever it was that kept giving him money to keep giving it to him! He was a genius like that, my father.

He spent on his children excessively whenever he had the opportunity. Most of the time the opportunities where hard to come but whenever they did, it totally rained! Unfortunately, my father’s good qualities where like a curse on themselves…like a double edged sword. And it is because of this that I felt I did not wish to be like him.

His intelligence allowed him to come up with brilliant business ideas that would sometimes send him to the brink of insanity. He was a man out of control. A man who would not be swayed from his unrighteous path even if Jezebel herself stood naked in front of him holding a Bible. Whereas he had begun as a good husband when he married my beautiful mother, with time he turned into a very scary human being.

If I am to have my father’s traits, which ones would I really want to have? And do I even have a choice in the matter? Heredity is such a…..(there’s a word am tempted to use, but I will let your minds fill it in for me, thank you.)

I have had many people tell me to think about all the good that my father did for me and the family. Finding the answer to that task is like asking me to either; mathematically prove that 1 + 1 is actually 2 or, to immediately take the bar exam. I could tell you why I think 1 + 1= 2, but I cannot prove it to you mathematically. I would rather take the bar exam!

But let me try both;

He gave life to me.

For a while he gave me a home.

By marrying my mother, he gave me the best supporter of all time.

He gave me my siblings.

Am told my brain functions on the same wave length as did his….I am not yet sure whether that is a good thing or not but let us not think too much shall we.

Then we move on to my mother…why I felt I did not wish to be like her.

Margaret, a woman with unfailing faith in God; she held on to it even when the walls around her where crumbling onto her head, breaking her into pieces bit by bit. Once I asked her why she stayed in marriage and her solemn answer was, “because of you my kids.”

I do not know if she expected me to be pleased with her response but because of that very response, I had for many years erased any idea of marriage from my head. I was grateful for her sacrifices, and I still am. Had my mother left the man that contributed biologically to my being, my siblings and I would not be where we are today. Any other woman would have left…but she stayed.

Yet…that fact is exactly what makes me not want to be like her. I have seen her pain. I have lived through her pain. I dried her tears numerous times. I picked her bloodied body from the floor many times than I care to remember. I watched her beauty fade from the hardness of life. I watched her smile through the pain, always pretending to be happy. I watched her read her Bible faithfully even when her eyes where failing her. I watched her hold on to dear life just so she could see me graduate and get married. And then all her pain became mine.

She lost the fight.

I should die trying to be like her…but I don’t.

I do not want to have her personality. That kind of personality could drive me crazy. Therein lies too much pain with endurance as the only hope. Her pain was so much that she ended up naming one of her own kids Endurance! Seriously Mum???

I am not patient enough to wait for Paradise. I might desire to live there, but I keep hoping my journey isn’t as rough as my mothers. Her life was a tsunami.

The behavioural scientists believe that human beings respond to stimuli or vice versa, or that our behaviour can be conditioned or reinforced. They believe that every person has a different personality which is influenced by factors such as environment, situation, heredity, and physical. Even before we are born, we have no choice in who are parents will be.

But it gets worse!

We have no choice in the way we will look once we are born. We could try surgery but we will always remember how we were before. Those images never go away. Even cloud servers have nothing on them. Then we have no choice in the environment or situation we will be raised. If anything Sigmund Freud says about the structure of the mind is true, then I have a reason to worry.

At present, my personality is a result of how I wish it to be. Whether it is natural or not is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it is something that has developed as a result of my experiences through life…the life that I have thanks to my parents. Growing up, I obviously had no choice in the experiences I went through but it is those same experiences that have stayed in my subconscious, always threatening to emerge thereby influencing the way in which I respond to different situations.

Even though I wish to believe that I am responsible for who I am, I know for a fact that who I was born from and how I was raised has much to do with everything I say or do. I can convince myself that I do not wish to be like my parents, but the things I learnt from them are the things I use to better myself in life; good or bad experiences, they’ve been most helpful.

I have lived most of my life hating a man who probably wasn’t even aware of his wrong doings and by doing so allowed him to still have a negative control over my life. I hated everyone who told me to forgive. I even hated God for allowing my mother to go through all that. My faith has been shaken numerous times and it is still fragile…but seriously, my mother should have seen something in it to keep holding on to it to the very end, right?

I want to see what my mother saw.

I want to know why she believed so much.

But the truth is, I don’t have the courage to start looking.

If I do start my mother’s journey, will I end up living the kind of life she did…always holding on even when it was humanly impossible? Is that what they mean by faith? Do I really want that? Do I really need to suffer like her to prove myself faithful? Dear Lord.

The answers scare my stomach enzymes into constipation itself.

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