When you think of how you got to where you are today and what makes you who you are, it can be a bit overwhelming. You may immediately think of events that occurred, the people you’ve met, the places you’ve gone, or the opinions you have.
What all of these concepts have in common is their relationship with memories. Your memories of these events, people, places, and opinions are entirely responsible for your current status in life.
In short, your memories make you who you are.
What Memories Are
Memories are pieces of data that you remember. When referring to humans, memories are typically what you remember about an event or emotion. At any waking moment of your life, you’re subconsciously making memories that your brain is storing for a future date.
For example, you’re remembering how your husband likes his coffee, what it felt like when you adopted your cat, how much fun you had on summer vacation, and what your dreams in life are.
At any moment, you can refer back to these memories and evoke the emotions and thoughts associated with each. You can also choose to repress the more painful memories to avoid feeling these emotions altogether.
Right now, you have thousands of memories in your brain that you haven’t intentionally thought about in days, months, years, or decades, but they are still responsible for the person you are today.
Memories & Identity
Though you don’t even realize it’s happening, memories are constantly shaping who you are, the major components of your personality, your outlook on life, and even your opinions.
In essence, you are the sum of every person you’ve met, every place you’ve been, every opinion you’ve formed, and every event you’ve experienced. Your identity is shaped by the memories you’ve compiled over the years.
For example, the memories of your childhood and young adult life have already impacted your adult life, but usually in an indirect manner. You might not even realize why you are the way you are without intense periods of reflection.
- You love going to the beach because your family rented a beach house down the shore every summer growing up.
- You’re compassionate because you watched those around you struggle to get on their feet financially.
- You dislike riding bicycles because of a bike accident you had when you were a child.
- You have a positive outlook on life because your family and friends always provided you with a positive atmosphere.
- You call your best friend when you’re upset because she’s always supported you in the lowest moments of your life.
Those are just examples, but they show how you develop your interests, habits, dislikes, passions, and personality traits based on things you’ve experienced at each point in your life. Your brain remembers what happened and how you felt even if you aren’t consciously thinking about these things on a daily basis.
Essentially every aspect of your current identity is based on at least one memory you have.
Changing Who You Are
When your personality begins to develop or even changes in adulthood, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve forgotten your memories. In fact, as you create new memories as your life progresses, you have unlimited ability to change who you are.
You’re not replacing or deleting memories, you’re simply creating new memories for your brain to reference at any given moment.
The person you are today is the result of every event that you’ve experienced in your life thus far. Though you might not actively remember these events or the emotions associated with them, they undoubtedly changed who you were as a person and the direction your life was headed in. You are who you are because of your memories.