DreamyArt — Pixabay

Do People Change or Stay the Same

Noel Thorne
Nov 18 · 4 min read

Reflections following a milestone high school reunion.

Recently my 20-year high school reunion happened, like already. I didn’t attend in person as I live on the other side of the country now, but I did reconnect with many of my old friends online. They had changed, yet we're still the same.

Most that I used to be close to I still find magnetic, though a few I would never be friends with now. Others that I hardly knew, are the ones that I would love to have now as part of my circle and I wonder why we weren’t friends back then.

We Change and Evolve

I noticed at first how much people have changed, though not in a physical sense. My class was a good looking group and for the most part, we have all aged well.

Career options were surprising for many. The meek girl that sat in the back of class reading her books is now an administrative leader of a successful business. The popular guy that had it all, looks and smarts, and exuded success in high school now has a mundane position making an average salary. How did these folks change so much from the trajectory from which they were on as a young adult?

We Are Who We Are

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but notice how at their core, most of my old friends are still the same. Our fearless charismatic class president is still fearless and charismatic, but now she’s also a globetrotting fashionista.

The underdogs that I felt protective of in school still show their insecurities in online discussions, though in a more subtle adultish way than they did as teenagers, wearing their emotions openly on their sleeves.

People that were confident and comfortable with who they were back then, still exude that confidence and continue to not need the approval of others. The snarky class clown is still brilliantly hilarious, though even more so now as life experiences have fine-honed their wit into an effortless art.

What Does It Mean

People change, yet stay the same. In some ways, people change tremendously and in others, they are who they are and will likely never differ from that path. Be it ambition, confidence, attitude or aptitude, it seems like all traits have the ability to fall onto either side of the evolution tracks (transforming or fixed).

So what makes some qualities about us adaptable while in others, those same aspects are fixed from a young age and make up the core essence of who we are? If one does not like something about themselves can it be changed even if it is a part of who they are on a basic level?

Pexels — Pixabay

We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are. ~Max Depree

Waiting for the “Big Change”

In some ways, I imagine my newly reconnected old friends and acquaintances see me the same as I was years ago: confident, light-hearted, and unconventional. I agree those things seem to be unwavering for myself, yet I am a completely different person than I was back then.

My spouse and I married young in our early 20’s. Our relationship continues to be amazing yet we both are drastically different people than we were 17 years ago when we said: “I do.”

Back then, we wanted a house full of kids and to live in a bustling city center. Now we are both steadfast childfree and prefer small towns, close enough to amenities yet quiet and serene. If either of us had stuck to the major preferences and desires we held the day we got married, our relationship would be difficult today if not failing altogether.

Most people I know have evolved substantially between their teenage years and their mid 30’s. For that reason, I caution my younger friends to wait until they have gone through their “big change” to marry. Sure, it worked out well for my spouse and me because we just happened to evolve by turning and going down the same path together, but it could have easily ended in disaster.

What the Future Holds

Not knowing who you will be in 10 years after a seemingly inevitable metamorphosis, seems like a large gamble to take when making a lifelong decision at a young age. Even after this significant young adult transformation, people are constantly changing, yet in many ways stay the exact same.

Do we change or stay the same? The answer is yes, both. How will each of us be different 10 or 20 years from now? While change can be uncomfortable, it propels self-growth. People don’t grow when they stay inside their comfort zone.

Originally published at https://www.noelthorne.com on November 17, 2019.

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Noel Thorne

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Noel Thorne is the nom de plume of a married writing team. They write thoughtful musings, short stories, and stellar book recommendations at noelthorne.com.

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