The events humans experience during their lives play a pivotal role in their future character and nature. Psychology scholars generally agree that they always change over time (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020). Therefore, it is important to understand the nature vs. nurture arguments and how the two interrelate and determine a person’s traits (Morgan & Rose, 2019). Developmental psychologists and other key stakeholders that deal with people must always learn to appreciate the historical events that a person has gone through to help them. Lifespan development is a process deeply embedded within people, inseparable from the context of family, social networks, and culture (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020). Therefore, practitioners must learn to use reflective practice in decision-making when dealing with an individual where they analyze the transactions between life events and personality traits across the adult lifespan.
The Head Injury
I had a fall that completely changed me when I was six years old. This fall influenced me as I learned how to be more careful. This event can be used to explain many facets of developmental psychology. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory can explain the behaviors I demonstrated (Denissen, Luhmann, Chung, & Bleidorn, 2019). For six-year-olds like I was, friends were not just playmates but also a source of support. The nature of this contributed to the nurture, for had I not tripped, my carelessness would have persisted. The proximal conditions, in this case, the fence, contributed to distal habits such as being careful when crossing roads. The event demonstrated the argument that for development to occur, the genes caused to play must be constantly regulated by the environment, in this case, the fence.
This event happened when I was in the middle childhood developmental stage. At this stage, a child is separated from the caregiver and finds himself in a world where they have to form new social circles. At this phase, the child wants to have an identity with friends, which was exhibited by my desire to act like Toby. Parents in this stage are always in constant fights with their children because they are trapped in their world. Egocentrism refers to some failure to recognize your subjectivity (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020; Fernández, 2020). My mother told me if I continued with dangerous games, I would fall, but due to my egocentrism, I could not change my perspective. As seen in this event, nature was fundamental in changing and developing me into a more caring individual. From that moment onwards, I became more careful and concerned with my surroundings.
Standing up to a Bully
I started my sixth grade at the age of 11 years, a small child for the class. Being younger than most learners meant I was vulnerable to bullies. A pupil named Bob took the opportunity of my size and silence to call me names and bully me constantly. He insulted and referred to me as a loser, a mosquito, and other offensive titles. It was painful to be intimidated like that, but I did not respond since he was much stronger. This prompted him to abuse me more, and the verbal harassment soon turned physical and aggressive. This ended one day, though, when Bob took my pencil and pierced me with it. I suddenly felt range and took the chair near me, smashing him with it. He bled furiously and was soon taken to the school clinic for first aid. The event was a non-normative one because it was unique to me, and had it not happened, maybe I would still be bullied. I realized that overcoming fear is essential for managing challenging situations in our lives.
I did not expect that being bullied was something that would end in my school life. However, as issues developed, I retaliated against Bob sooner than anticipated. It affected me cognitively as I understood that respect must be earned, not given. This behavior is autonomous, as the cognitive theories of Piaget and Kohlberg put it (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020). By deciding to fight back, I demonstrated that I understood rules are just social agreements and can be broken (Munger, 2021). Clearly, this event changed my morality from a heteronomous morality of following all rules set by a higher authority to an Autonomous morality where social rules are only followed when there is equality and reciprocity and can be changed for a higher goal. If someone wants issues to go their way, they must be willing to stand their ground. I believe the event was also influential for Bob because he, too, learned to take other persons’ perspectives. As a child in his early childhood, Bob had to deal with psychological, neuropsychological, and environmental influences that made him hostile to me.
At this stage of adulthood, a child develops a working memory that acts as a short-term store to elicit immediate actions. Information in this memory is transferred to the long-term memory and retrieved when needed. After standing up to the bully, the outcome made me change and be able to defend myself. The story also demonstrates that I had attained logical thinking skills at this time. The fact that I tolerated being bullied for some time demonstrates that I had a logical thinking capacity to think of what could happen if I fought back. Another cognitive change after this event is developing a memory strategy of knowing that I have to earn what I deserve. This event also demonstrated how social cognition is associated with adolescence. Bob’s social cognition showed that he could treat those weaker than him as he wished but respect anyone stronger.
I have received much advice throughout my life, but only a few have stuck for life or changed my identity. When I was 20 years old, I tried to figure out my life. My friend and college mate gave me the best piece of advice. We were walking in the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn, when our conversation shifted from music and arts to career choices. The colleague told me that I should go for the scalable ones when making career choices or choosing business endeavors. The comrade explicitly explained that these ones are not subjected to limitation by the person’s input. We did not linger on the topic for long, and our conversation switched to lesser serious matters, as only a 20-year-old can do. My friend’s advice was a simple way of discriminating against professionals, and I thought about it for months and even years.
Regular career advice will not likely change a person’s identity and behaviors. However, being introspective, I thought about it for hours and liked the advice on real work scenarios. That evening I realized how the richest people were not the ones paid by the hour but those in scalable professions. After receiving the piece of talk, I started to shift my behaviors and began avoiding repetitive tasks. I further commence automating how I operate on ideas and businesses, trying to reach many people with one. My behavior today still follows the same pattern; consequently, I am not the best kind of person one would hire to do repetitive work. This event greatly influenced my attitudes, behavior, and how I perceive issues and act. The advice directly impacted my behaviors and choices as I started to try career paths that were limited by my labor. This was a piece of career advice, and to date, I still follow it when making important choices.
This event was hardly expected; I thought it was just another uncalled-for piece of advice from a 22-year-old who believed they knew much. It was, therefore, non-normative and sudden, just as the other common unexpected events such as the death of a loved one (Aquino, Brand, & Torche, 2022). Its implications for my life have also been more than I ever foresaw, leading me into a life of not believing that hard work pays proportionally. The event demonstrated the scholastic competence that people exhibit in their college years. Broderick and Blewitt (2020) suggested that before anyone makes decisions, they have to incorporate their past experiences. In my case, the best advice I have ever received plays a crucial role when figuring out how to help others.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic significantly shaped my identity. Before the outvbreak, I was an extrovert who liked to party with friends and have fun. The restrictions made me live indoors without seeing my associates and relatives. It was challenging as I underwent depression alone with nobody to talk to share with. My interaction with friends also reduced significantly, and I could not engage with other people. Through this, I developed new habits, both positive and negative. For instance, studies have discovered that people develop reading habits as persistent lockdowns (Chalari & Vryonides, 2022). I observed the same as I started reading more books during this period. The duress I underwent due to the pandemic also elicited a feeling of empathy for others.
This life event can be described as history graded since it affected everyone. As with all history-graded events, the repercussions were not the same. The COVID-19 event was significant since it influenced many facets of my life. Some cognitive change that occurred during this period is how I communicate. I learned to be keener and more reasonable in my statements and less certain of aspects as I realized that what I know may not always be correct. This change in thinking was caused by realizing how ignorant I was to think that the pandemic would not be serious and affect the world. After the virus raged over the nations, I developed some fear following its impact in different countries.
Environmental influences are known to have cognitive, psychological, and social effects on personal development. They occur simultaneously and can be explained using stage theories or incremental models (Broderick & Blewitt, 2020). My encounter with the COVID-19 pandemic could best be analyzed using stage models such as those proposed by Erickson or Piaget. The virus taught me that stressors are inevitable and can affect everybody; therefore, the best way to move is to determine the appropriate response. It further guided me on spiritual matters knowing that I had to accept what is unavoidable. Some of the diatheses acquired during my college of scalable careers were changed as I also understood that those careers are likely to be exposed to huge risks. The happiness I enjoyed due to relationships with friends and family was hugely affected by the pandemic, thus reducing my overall well-being. The pandemic began when I was experiencing normative changes such as the woes of getting older. The pandemic being a non-normative change, worsened this and caused increased trauma and anxiety.
The narrated four events shaped my identity into becoming who I am today. My head injury made me careful with the environment to avoid injuries. Reacting to withstand a bully in grade six taught me that we must be courageous and fight for what we want. The best advice from my college influenced how I make career choices. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced my character by pushing it from extraversion to introversion. My events show we are not just a product of our genes but also of the environment that we grow in. These events can be individuals, groups, or those affecting everyone. They can occur in any period of our lives, and their cognitive, psychological, or social influences are greatly influenced by age. A developmental psychologist should therefore ensure that they understand all the events a person has gone through to understand how they think or perceive issues.
Aquino, T., Brand, J. E., & Torche, F. (2022). Unequal effects of disruptive events. Sociology Compass, 16(4), e12972.
Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2020). The life span: Human development for helping professionals.
Denissen, J. J. A., Luhmann, M., Chung, J. M., & Bleidorn, W. (2019). Transactions between life events and personality traits across the adult lifespan. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 116(4), 612–633.
Fernández Velasco, P. (2020). Disorientation and self-consciousness: A phenomenological inquiry. Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences, 1-20.
Morgan, I. G., & Rose, K. A. (2019). Myopia: Is the nature‐nurture debate finally over? Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 102(1), 3-17.
Munger, M. C. (2021). Giants among us: do we need a new antitrust paradigm? Constitutional Political Economy, 1-16.