How Much Do We Really Change?

I happened to be cleaning through some old media files the other day and came upon some video footage of my two boys from nearly five years ago. Though I enjoyed seeing them again as much younger children, what struck me most was how little they had changed.

Yes, their voices sounded different and they were physically bigger, but I was amazed that their personalities had barely changed! From their expressions to the cadence of their stories, they are still so similar to the little boys they used to be.

Adam is still very logical, responsible, honest and always concerned about getting things right. Bryan is still very much a free spirit, always smiling, very dramatic in his storytelling, and still telling me what the bad kids at school did that day.

I was a bit surprised, as I would think that young children would change the most during any given period. But a quick poll of friends on Facebook with teenaged and older children confirmed this idea. We basically are who we are at the core and our personalities don't change all that much over time.

What does all this have to do with the importance of capturing family stories?

I started thinking that if kids don't change personalities much, how adults must change even less, which means that the earlier you tell your stories, the better. (You'll still be the same person at age 50 as age 80, but likely with less wrinkles and more hair!)

I recently gave talks to two different groups of people and one of the things I emphasized at the end of each is that the most important thing you can do is not wait - to tell your story now.

I think people do tend to wait. Maybe it's because they think they'll change in some way? Acquire more wisdom or knowledge? I'm not quite sure all of their reasons, but I think my short video shows that we all don't change very much, so there's no sense to wait to tell your story when you think you'll somehow be better or wiser.  (In fact, the only time I really hear about people changing personalities is when someone suffers from Alzheimer's or Dementia - which may give you even more reason not to wait...)

Though I mostly focus on telling the stories of adults, I would add that recording young people's stories can be equally important. And if nothing else, it's great fun to look back at our younger selves and family members and see what has changed!