Nurture Your Nature (Or What My Little Ponies Taught Me About Myself)
The impact of our biological make up versus our environment (nature vs. nurture) on our personalities and lives has been long debated by both science and philosophy. Why would two siblings raised in the same environment choose drastically different paths in life? Why do people with completely different backgrounds choose the same profession?
Studies about these questions fill volumes. The question of whether nature takes more of a role or if nurture takes the lead may never be fully answered. We can be content to leave the studying to the professionals, but there is one person that we can and should attempt to answer this question for, and that is ourselves.
Why does this matter? I believe it’s important to examine this question for ourselves because if we can identify and work with our nature instead of fighting against it, we will be able to enhance our lives faster and easier than ever before. Here are two examples from my own life.
I am naturally an introvert. This part of my nature is not in question. I used to joke that people thought I was mute until I was 24. Being introverted means I think a lot. This is great for writing, but I also live in a world filled with people that I need to talk to. This is why I joined Toastmasters. When I first started giving speeches at club meetings I was absolutely terrified. But I was determined to overcome this fear in order to improve my life.
At first I fought against my nature. I tried to be an extrovert. I can actually pull off an extrovert act for a while, but it is very emotionally draining. Eventually I realized that my introvertedness gives me a gift: I never run out of ideas for speeches. I have so many ideas I could never give them all. So instead of trying to be something I’m not, I embraced my non-stop thinking and applied it to my speaking. Some Toastmasters who are naturally extroverted have trouble coming up with speech topics – not me! I have enough for me and to share with my fellow members. I may never be Tony Robbins; honestly, I don’t want to be! I want to be me and share my own unique style with my listeners. With practice, I learned to overcome my fear in order to offer my audience my perspective on any number of topics and hopefully inspire someone out there to make a change that is good for their life.
One of the quirks of my personality is that I love to keep track of things. Lists, spreadsheet and charts fill my computer. I thought that this was something that had become part of me due to the type of work I have done for years, but a recent surprise from my mom made me think again.
In a blast from the past, my mom mailed me an old coloring book I had when I was ten years old. On the inside of the front cover was a list keeping track of how many pages I had colored on what date, and an exclamation point for the date I had colored all the pages in the book and completed my project. It made me laugh, but it also made me think. Perhaps my need to track, chart and measure progress is actually an innate part of my nature, and not something that was “nurtured” into me.
Since discovering this I no longer feel silly keeping careful track of how many words I write, how many words are in each of my books, etc. It motivates me, it allows me to measure my productivity and pinpoint at what times I am most efficient in my writing. I am nurturing my nature, and it is helping me grow!
Perhaps many of us would be better served by recognizing traits that are just part of who we are and using them to nurture whatever project we are working on instead of being embarrassed by them or fighting against them. We each have our own unique abilities; let’s embrace them. Nurture your nature today!