This is ONE OF 2 responses to Vol 16 John 5 ("Can We Change?")...
I don't feel twenty 'inside'. And when I think of what I was like when twenty, I am very glad I did not stop there!
However, I do not feel like I have 'aged'. I am sure I am slowly modifying my personality based on my life experiences. I am not really like the twenty year old I once was!
I know I have gotten more conservative, and also more caring or at least more aware of the effect of my actions on others. I am also less depressed and less self-destructive. What has changed is the impression of aging.
When a child and juvenile person, it was obvious we were changing and growing older. Our bodies were undergoing major physical/hormonal remodeling and this activity had major influences on our mind/personalities. As adults, we no longer change physically until the body starts failing during old age. Even then it is more like a betrayal from our physical selves. The mind/personality feels no aging. Sure, it is comfortable to stop exploring ourselves and value systems or whatever it is that makes up our personalities, but it is possible to continue to change and not just in a pattern related to the original personality trace.
No, I don't feel twenty (mentally?). But I also don't feel as though I have physically aged either.
I think our high school classmates fell into their patterns because of expectations from others and because it was convenient when relating to people we had not seen in years. Of course maybe most of them actually had not changed because they had no reason to or had no experiences with which to induce any personality changes. Remember, most are from Idaho Falls, along with their families, and they expect no changes in the continuing generations of Idaho Falls families.
John, I know you have "changed" (actually, improved like a fine wine) over the years. Nothing radical, but nobody would have wanted a radical change in you (like, to a yuppie family man with a 40+ hour work week). Bill, however, does not seem to have really changed. But he has always appeared comfortable with himself, so maybe he never will.
I say that our personalities are malleable all our lives. The degree of change depends on the life experiences and that individual's reactions to those experiences. The reason people do not feel as though they age beyond about twenty is because physically we don't!