‘Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future’ – Unknown
It may be because I moved around a lot as a kid and was always starting new schools every couple of years, but I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of a chameleon in social situations. I’m good at turning up or toning down certain aspects of my personality depending on who I’m talking to and what side of me I think is most appropriate in that situation. I’m not saying I’m false; I’m not a criminal mastermind or anything and there’s only so many sides to my multi-faceted personality I can tap into before I’m completely out of my depth. What I’m trying to say is I’m quite adaptable.
We’re all just products of our environment and we’re sponges when it comes to mannerisms or turns of phrase. It stands to reason that is you spend enough time with someone, various parts of their personality will start to rub off on you, without you even knowing. For example, Dave, my brother and their friend Brian all have the same laugh. It’s hard to explain but you’ll know it if you know them. It’s usually the kind of laugh you do when you’re retelling a story that involves someone doing something idiotic. I don’t know who’s laugh it was originally but they’ve all known each other so long, they all do it. That often makes me wonder though, what parts of my personality are actually *mine*, like, independently mine, and not something I’ve picked up from someone else? Is there anything at all? Are we all just a sum of the parts we’ve picked up from the 5 people we hang around with most?
Let’s take a look:
Physically there’s no denying I’m the sum of the parts of my parents. The older I get the more I’m turning into my mum, particularly in my face. And my dad was very blonde as a kid, as are all my cousins on my dad’s side.
Personality wise, as a family we’re all deep thinkers, worriers and over reactors. And I get my taste in music and inability to hold on to any money from my dad for sure. Me and my mum bicker sometimes because we’re so similar; neither of us like to be wrong and neither of us listen very well to the other person when we’re trying to make a point. But we’re also really caring and always put other people first.
So that’s the genetics out the way but what about the people I spend the most time with? There’s been a theory kicking around for a couple of years now that you are the sum of the 5 people you’re closet to, which raises it’s first problem because I’m not sure I could narrow this down to just 5 people. Not that I’m like mega popular or anything, i just spend a lot of time with friends, work friends, my besties down in Eastbourne, family, Dave’s family etc.
Also, what about the butterfly effect? I know that my recent change in clothes style is down in part to my change in job and a more relaxed dress code, but also being closer to Carrie over recent years (who dresses incredibly well I must add) But who influenced her? Is her style her style, or has she picked it up from some one else?
As well as Carrie (who I’ll come back to later as she was actually the inspiration for this whole post) the 4 other people I spend the most time with are Ang, Dave, Emma and Steph and on a daily basis I do things or say things that I know come from them.
Dave has joked before that Ang and I are no longer allowed to be on the same team together when we play The Big Taboo, because we know each other so well, we practically have out own language and no one else stands a chance. We’ve been best friends since we were 16, finish each other’s sentences and can communicate with just a look. She can even tell by my text messages in our group chats when I’m pissed off. There’s so much of her I have in me and vice versa there wouldn’t be enough time to list it all.
Dave has changed me in many ways (mostly for the better). He’s transformed many things in my life from the way I handle my money to appreciating an IPA. I mean we’ve been together for 16 years now, you’d have thought something would have rubbed off on me by now. We also have loads of our own in jokes and can communicate with just a look but that’s mostly the ‘I’m ready to go home now’ look on nights out!
Emma and I practically share the same brain. We’re each other’s go to person when we’re worrying about overacting to something or feeling bad about something and you just need someone to say ‘you know what, i would feel exactly the same’. We have the same taste in music and I definitely have reignited my sense of fun, being silly and not caring about what people think all the time from her.
Personality wise, Steph is probably most different to me, she’s logical and calm and quiet and clever where as I am none of those things. She influences regularly though. Most recently, and most noticeably, her incessant nagging about my carbon footprint means I have now massive reduced the plastic I use in my daily life. Perhaps even more importantly than that though is that she’s my unwavering biggest cheerleader and always inspiring me to be kind and look after myself.
So, Carrie, and the whole reason I thought to write this post. She does this noise when she finds something unpleasant, like a ‘blurgh’ type thing, which came about when she was little and drew a picture of herself being sick. (actual photographic evidence of this below). She wrote the noise down in a speech bubble and it became a thing. She does the noise and Emma does the noise, now I do the noise, and Dave does the noise, and when I last hung out with Jenny, who sits next to Dave at work she did the noise as well, despite having never met Carrie at the time. The ‘blurgh’ noise has infiltrated through the Newman house and out into the world.
And by that logic, if I got most of my elements from other people, who got their character traits and quirks from other people, who got their traits from other people, who the hell even am I? Is anything I do even me?! Who’s original anymore?
Now. Here’s something that has never happened in the 6 year history of Honestly Helen So strap in ladies and gents; I’m going to quote the bible.
‘What has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun’ – Ecclesiastes 1:4-11
So even the big man above reckons there’s nothing unique about us and there’s a canny few people who believes what he has to say.
When I started writing this, and I spoke to loads of different people who know me well, I really wanted to find that one thing that makes me me, that makes me unique, that I will pass on to all my nearest and dearest and they will say ‘she gets that from Helen for sure’. But I honestly don’t think there is anything. We are products of the environment we grow up and live in, the work that we do, the TV shows we watch, the music we listen to and the people we spend the most time with.
So if I am the sum of all the people I spend the most time with, I’m thankful they’re such a great bunch really.