The Fastest Way to Become the Person You Want to Be
Personality isn’t fixed — we just let ourselves get predictable
People tend to default to the roles imposed by social environments. Putting yourself in new environments, around new people, and taking on new roles are the quickest ways to access different facets of your personality, for better or worse. Fully take on the roles you assume, and you’ll change from the outside in.
To break from a common understanding of personality as innate and unchangeable, it helps to consider the etymology. The word “personality” comes from the Latin word persona: a mask worn by an actor in a theater, or a character acted onstage. In real life, too, we wear different masks and play different roles. As William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.”
Think about this for a minute: Are you always the same person? Do you really feel like the same person in all situations and circumstances? Of course not. In some situations, you may be quiet, awkward, or shy. In others, you’re on top of the world. The “you” that shows up is very different depending on the situation.
If your house were being robbed, you’d be different than if you were sitting on an airplane or at work or at a rock concert. Around certain people, such as old high school friends, you may reflect a younger and less mature version of yourself. Sometimes you act more introverted and sometimes more extroverted.
But here’s what’s interesting: As people age, they tend to stop engaging in new situations, experiences, and environments. In other words, people’s personalities become increasingly consistent simply because they stop putting themselves into new contexts. Indeed, the philosopher and psychologist William James believed that a person’s personality basically became fully formed and fixed by age 30, because thereafter a person’s life often becomes highly routine and predictable.