Nature vs. Nurture


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Nature vs. Nurture

I love when an idea just comes to me, clear as day; it’s like the universe taps me on the shoulder, I turn around, and it hands me a little message. I imagine that’s what SNL writers experience all the time – just constantly coming up with the best, original content, though no one is better than Bill Hader as Stefon. I’m so inclined to go into a tangent about SNL but I will refrain, just this once.

Obviously my hope is that I can deliver what I’ve envisioned for this topic. As has been the format, we will focus on my story today… well, mine and my brother’s, because you wouldn’t get a lot out of only hearing from me. And let me just say, I’m Switzerland on this topic, though I could easily debate why either one makes more sense. Hmm… why didn’t I join the debate team in high school? Did we have a debate team? Was I more worried about what outfit I’d wear to a woods party?… likely.

Okay, let’s jump into the first memory for me, and the first for my brother, Dylan (he’s seven years younger than me for those of you that are probably not wondering but I’m telling you anyway).

He tells me he remembers walking through the halls of our first house, pretending he was in a jungle with a tiger as his best friend (how sweet).

When I’m asked that question, I’m brought to my dance class; the floors had an orange hue, and there were carpet squares spread out. I can see myself jumping over the gray and brown mats, then looking up at the teacher for approval, wanting her to praise my “leap” like it’s the best thing she’d ever seen.

And there we have it… nature vs. nurture debate is settled. Psych – clearly we’re not gleaning anything from these responses so let’s keep going. Oh, but before we do, it’s important to note we both answered these questions separately so we weren’t influenced by the other. I’m only influenced by Instagram celebs! Gross – not. But actually, sometimes.

Okay, seriously, next question.

What were your parents like?

Dylan: My dad works at APS; he’s a strict, serious person. He’s very loving but not very good at showing it, and he’s a great teacher if you’re patient with him. My mom works with insurance companies (not sure how else to describe it) and is a super kind, caring person, who might have too much empathy. She’s very nurturing and has always been there for me, and really anyone, no matter what.

Me: My dad is very serious, practical, and rule-abiding, though he truly does have a wonderful, compassionate heart. He’s worked for the same company all of his adult life and his best friend actually started at said company with him 36 years ago. He’s a hunter, he likes Copenhagen long cut, Crown Royal, and enjoys watching and playing hockey. He was my softball coach and I remember him throwing pop flys for me on our street. While I would’ve described him as hard, or even mean growing up, he’s become so supportive in my adult life, always placing my happiness above everything.

My mom – you guys have heard me talk about my mom. She’s emotional, loving, beautiful, and charismatic; she does everything to ensure people feel welcomed, included, and safe. I’ve never seen someone so good with kids either – watching her with my niece just melts my heart. She was always very hands on with my school projects, whether it be a book report that needed to be extra, or a science project that drew people in to earn top prize. I remember her being at every dance practice, and certainly every dance competition, waiting to literally pick me up after I performed, with tears in her eyes, telling me how proud she was. I can actually picture myself in my blue sequined costume, the color of the walls and chairs… memory is a strange thing. Perhaps that’s a future topic. She also did my hair regularly (once it grew back after I chopped it) and made sure my clothes were laid out the night before school. Remember those one size fits all stretchy crinkle shirts? Those were a real treat, huh? Can’t wait until we see Forever 21 start putting those out.

Describe your childhood home, including your bedroom –

Dylan: Our first house was small and cozy, on a street with a bunch of other kids. It had a giant backyard which was great for playing. My room was awesome – I had bunk beds, and a tonka truck theme.

Me: I grew up on Donna Dr. which I loved because my dance teacher’s name was Donna. Oddly, I can’t remember that much about inside the house, except for playing Crash Bandicoot in my parents’ room or cutting my knee on the dresser as I tried doing cartwheels in my room. We had a large backyard though – I want to say 2 acres? My dad built a DOPE tree house… actually, it wasn’t even a tree house – it was a miniature house, with monkey bars and a swing… man that thing was cool. We had a barn, but I don’t remember any animals, aside from our dog, Tigger. I recall jumping from the roof down onto our trampoline, which in hindsight, is absolutely terrifying – we easily could’ve broken our necks.

How would you describe yourself, and how has that changed over time?

Dylan: I would describe myself as a confident, considerate person who cares more about others than myself, which is the opposite of how I felt growing up. I used to be so worried about what other people thought of me, constantly thinking about me, convinced everyone else was thinking about me all the time. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been now.

Me: As a child, I was charismatic, curious, ambitious, eager to please, and craved attention. Honestly, not much has changed, I’ve just been able to pinpoint where a lot of my need comes from so I can operate from a healthier, more self aware place.

Growing up, did you get along with one another? Dylan: I definitely fought most with Devon as a kid – although she could be loving, she was bossy and was often quick to anger (me? bossy?). I was closer to Darryan growing up, as she allowed me to just play. Over time though, I would say I’ve developed a closer bond with Devon.

Me: A seven year difference is quite drastic, so we certainly weren’t the best of friends. I mean, I was an only child until he came into the picture, my sister shortly after. That said, my parents trusted me to babysit when I was eight, and I really enjoyed mothering him. I even brought him in to show & tell in third grade. We moved closer into town when I was in seventh grade and I recall Dylan telling on me for everything; I definitely wouldn’t say we became close until after I graduated high school.

What, if anything, did you get in trouble for most growing up?

Dylan: I never really got in trouble for anything… honestly, I was a stereotypically “good” kid growing up. I had a few friends – we’d have sleepovers and play video games – I did my homework and got good grades; I really wasn’t a partier.

Me: I feel like I was constantly in trouble in high school, whether it be for my choice of clothing which my dad didn’t agree with, overuse of the phone, staying out too late, drinking, hanging out with boys. I don’t recall ever getting in trouble for my grades (praise be).

What did you do with your free time (outside of school)?

Dylan: For a while, I played hockey which I really enjoyed, though that didn’t carry over to high school. I developed an interest in becoming a pilot which sort of fizzled when I found out my mental health issues wouldn’t allow me to pursue that career path. That may be one of the main reasons I started playing video games a lot more in high school and became a bit of a stoner, bumming around in my late teens / early twenties. Thankful that habit is behind me.

Me: In elementary school, free time was spent having sleepovers with my dance friends or coming up with new scenarios for inside the little house my dad built, like pretending I was teaching a class, or pretending I was being filmed for some sort of show, like ‘hi there, welcome back, Devon here, to show you how monkey bars work.’ In middle school, I still hung out with the girls from dance, but also a lot of girls from my grade that didn’t partake in the sport. Most of my friends had older siblings, which for some reason, made me feel more mature, again, seeking approval from them. In high school, I was a pom captain which was quite the time commitment, as we choreographed all our own dances. Outside of that, I could be found at a party, drinking Hypnotiq or Smirnoff… just the thought of those makes me dry heave.

How would you say your childhood has shaped who you are today?

Dylan: My depression started when I was eight, which really tainted many experiences for me. I had such a loving environment but I couldn’t appreciate it a lot of the time. I would say my mom’s ability to show emotion gave me permission to express mine, but that awareness didn’t come until later in life.

Me: Well, I think my childhood and the way I was raised has a lot to do with who I am but I don’t think I fully accepted myself until after high school… maybe even after college. I think my dad instilled a work ethic in me that will never fade, my mom provided unyielding support that makes me feel like I’m allowed to make mistakes; my cleanliness definitely comes from my Grandma. My charisma is something I think I was born with though – I love being in a big group setting, meeting new people in social situations, and being in front of a camera… that’s not something I share with any of my family members.

Who would you say you’re most influenced by in your everyday life?

Dylan: My mom.

Me: I would say I’m most influenced by stories that I can relate to. I’m a big podcast listener (who isn’t?) and often feel most inspired by all the stories I hear, as I can see myself in them. Definitely recommend Armchair Expert, Imagined Life, and Expanded.

Would you say your personality is more similar or different from when you were a child?

Dylan: Different

Me: The same.

Okay. Now we can take a step back and form an opinion, or just look at some questions and answers without forming one. My brother and I had very similar upbringings and our personalities and way of living are very different. I also look at my mom and her three siblings and they couldn’t be more diverse. Does that mean we’re all just programmed with certain traits and beliefs from the moment we’re conceived? How much does who we surround ourselves with play a part in who we are? These aren’t questions I have the answer to, but I’m excited to keep exploring and learning, and hopefully, lending a platform for your thoughts to swirl. Sunday’s post will contain stories from two families, so we’ll have another couple lenses to look through while we mull over our theories.

And I’m going to end this a little YouTubey and ask you to support me by sharing this post. I’m trying to build something and would love to continue growing my audience in an effort to soon reach more people I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. So, thank you in advance, my friends.

Instagram: @Coffee_With_A_Question

Devon Herrera

Committed To Curiosity