The first people we meet are usually our parents. If we are lucky they are good people and we get to spend a lot of time with them. If we spend the “normal” amount of time with our parents they have a ton of impact on who we are. Even when it doesn’t happen that way parents have an impact on us. I’ve known several people in my life who never knew their parents, or could not remember them. I believe even this has an impact on who they were. Parents, one way or the other, have a huge impact on who we are and how we relate to other people.
After parents, the people we have relationships with are likely to be the most influential in our lives. The intensity, passion, entanglement, and influence a significant other has can truly change your life – for the better or the worse. Even if you “don’t value relationships”, you are susceptible to influence in these situations. The one lesson I’ve learned over the years, a very difficult lesson, is to choose wisely. Don’t let circumstances, availability, infatuation, or attraction lead you to give up the choice of who to spend your life with. It is your choice and there are few choices you will make that will have a bigger impact on your life.
We change a little with every person we meet. How much we change depends on how much effort we put into the meeting and how much effort the other person puts in to it. It also depends, at least to some extent on how long you know a person. A 5 minute meeting, no matter how intense it is, will be unlikely to have as big an impact as a 40 year friendship. However, each meeting is an opportunity to change. We might learn a new joke, a new way to look at life, love, and happiness, we might discover something about other people, or if we’re lucky we’ll discover something about ourselves.
We can’t even remember some people who we have met, even if we spent a considerable amount of time with them. Either the memories have faded over the years because they weren’t important to us, or we intentionally pushed these memories aside until they faded. Regardless of whether you remember the person, they may still have a big impact on who you are. For instance, I can’t remember my kindergarten, first, or second grade teachers in any great detail. I spent hours for the entire school year with these people, but I don’t remember them. Regardless, I’m sure a part of who I am is due to them.
Sometimes you meet people by reading a book, watching a movie or TV show, reading an article, or a blog post. These meetings can leave lasting impressions too… even when the person you meet this way is not a real person, but a character!
I want to be clear, I’m not saying that “we become the people we meet”, in fact these people may turn out to be “shining examples of exactly who we don’t want to be”. In most cases the more you get to know a person, the more you find that they are a combination of things you admire and will emulate, and things that are less than admirable. We are all human, with weaknesses as well as strengths.
I can’t click the publish button without stating the obvious, we are also more than just who we meet. How we process the meetings in our life and who we are right now is more than just a conglomeration of all the people we’ve met. There is an inner being that processes those meetings and the experiences in a fairly unique way. However, the total of who we are is absolutely dependent upon who we meet.