This I Believe

Elizabeth - Brookfield, Illinois
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: morality, nature

Elizabeth Kearney

This I Believe


Nature vs. Nurture

Nature versus nurture seems to be an age-old debate. For most people this is just an intellectual discussion, but for me it has special significance. In the past, I probably would have said that peoples’ personalities are shaped by the way they are raised. I now believe that people are shaped through a combination of nature and nurture.

Last year I began to question where my personality originated. When I was a baby my birthmother gave me up for adoption. I grew up with my adopted parents, who I will always think of as my mom and dad. It was the times when my parents seemed to be so emotionally different from me that I knew there had to be something else shaping me besides the way I was raised. When I turned eighteen, my mom gave me my birthmother’s contact information. I put it into a box under my bed, waiting for a later time to use it. Three years later I decided to contact her, being afraid that if I kept waiting the opportunity might pass me by. I wrote her a letter not really knowing what to expect, and received a letter back from her the same week. I set up a meeting with her which terrified me. I kept telling myself to remember that just because you are related that does not make you family.

From the first second I saw her it was obvious that we were related; she is 5 foot nothing with brown hair, brown eyes, and big teeth. The more I got to know her the more similarities I found; we bite out nails, smoke cigarettes, and are stubborn. As I wondered how I could be so much like someone I had never met, the question popped into my head: Was I a product of nature or nurture? I began to feel confused about where I came from. Was I more like these relatives I had just met than the family I had known my whole life? When I looked at my mom and dad I saw a lot of personality traits that had rubbed off on me, but when I looked at my birthmother I saw a face that looked just like mine staring back at me.

After doing a lot of thinking I came to the conclusion that I, like most people, are a product of both nature and nurture. My morals and values come from nurture; they are the ideals that I was raised with and are some of the most important aspects of me. I believe that some of my personality comes from nature; it does seem that I act more like my birthmother then my real mother. But when it comes down to it, both my genetics and my environment shaped who I am today. Take either away and I am not the same person.