Nature vs Nurture (Part 2)

I’ve been getting a lot of advice lately. Some of it work related (for those of you new here, I’m a teacher). Some of it relationship advice (Again, for those of you new, I’m seeing someone and we’re in an undefined place). A lot of it is absolutely unhelpful at all. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason it is unhelpful goes back to that Nature -vs- Nurture question.

FYI, the Nature-vs-Nurture debate has been going on for a long time. Is our personality dependent on our genetics (nature) or on the environment in which we are raised (nurture)? Previously I discussed some aspects of the Nurture argument. Today I’d like to discuss the Nature side, since, as I said, I think it has some bearing on why other people’s advice doesn’t seem to work for me.

And maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe I want to believe that my idealistic, open-minded, not shackled to outdated sense of ___(fill in the blank)___ ways come from who I am at my core. And maybe that’s just not true, no matter how much I’d like to believe it, but, I promised I would come back and explain my concerns views on the Nature aspect of the debate, and so here I am. If need be, we’ll discuss the advice part in a later post… In fact, I will probably do that as soon as I’m done with this, but they really should be handled separately.

First of all, let’s recap for a second. What do we know about me?

  • I’m adopted
  • I grew up in a household of a different ethnicity than me
  • I’m a Gemini
  • I teach
  • I’m an ENFP according the Briggs Meyer (or whatever)

I’m sure there’s more, but I think those 5 facts are where this should begin, most notably, the adopted part. I am adopted. It’s true. I am presumably of Native American descent on my father’s side, and, based on my features, from the Blackfoot tribe. But being adopted means there’s no paperwork to connect me to the tribe, and given that my bio-mom was white, I never had any official link made to the tribe.

My mom and me at Frog Street Press

This is my adopted mom and me. Notice the differences?

It’s not just my bio-mom that was white. My whole adopted family is white. Green and blue eyes surround me when I go home to visit. They don’t seem to see the difference, but I’m often aware of it when we go out. A good portion of my growing up was spent explaining to people who hadn’t previously seen my mother and me together that yes, that short blonde woman was my mother. So now I pre-warn people before they meet my family: “I’m adopted, they are not going to look like me and I am not going to look like them. Deal with it.”

If we can swing back to the Nurture part of the debate for a second, I do feel that being raised by a different race means that I don’t see race as much as other people. I find it somewhat obnoxious when people constantly bring it up as a valid part of any argument. I feel very strongly that while you should be proud of your heritage (I have cradleboards and storyteller dolls from several different tribal nations), you should not let the color of your skin define who you are. I was appalled when I watched a video by a young, new actress who was recently in “12 Years a Slave,” and in the interview she said that it wasn’t until she came to America that she really identified as black, because in America race is such an important part of our culture…

Really? The color of our skin is one of the most important parts of our culture? Doesn’t that bother anyone else?

Vogue interview with Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o didn’t identify as black til she came to America because of our views on Race? We should be ashamed!

Anyway, while the color of my skin is part of my Nature, I don’t find it to be that big of a deal, other than it means that I have to remind my family that I’m not white like them. This occasionally comes up as I have dated people from a multitude of races. Why? Because I don’t see race as important.

Sometimes I think that is still a Nature thing. What I know about Native American culture, or at least through books and myths and various other media, is that there’s a bigger focus on spirituality than on physicality. And it’s a more nature based spirituality. A more open-minded spirituality than traditional western religions. Everything has a spirit and we are part of the whole. It seems very much like the more Eastern mysticism religions, like Buddhism.Anqet__Goddess_of_the_Nile_by_Thorn

I’ve been drawn to more natural forms of worship for a very long time. When I used to be upset, I would go outside and talk to the moon while I fed the dogs. And sometimes I would just stand there and cry and ask the moon “why?” I did this in my teens for sure, and not entirely certain how early it started. I did this without ever being part of a tribe. Without ever being around nature worshipers, not even Pagans or Wiccans or whatnot.

I also like a more veggie filled, less red-meat diet than my family. They exist on a diet of beef and potatoes and veggies out of a can. While this is not wrong it doesn’t seem right for me. My body metabolizes things differently, but I grew up on lots of carbs and lots of starchy veggies and not a lot of variety. I actually started to lose weight for a bit when I went to college. Then I got lazy. I definitely need to get my diet back to food that makes me feel good instead of the pre-packaged food of my youth. When I eat like my family, I get fat. They don’t, necessarily, but my body doesn’t metabolize the foods they eat. Sometimes it makes me feel like an alien when I go home…

Giorgio Tsoukalos It was Aliens

Sometimes how I feel when I go home…

All of that seems fairly inconsequential when I go back and read it. It doesn’t really help the debate at all!

My underlying fear is that my bio-mom may have been a bit of a slut, and I don’t want to be that. I’m in my 30’s and never been married, but I have been in quite a few relationships that were founded on less than wholesome ideals. What if my fear of commitment goes back to some semi-dormant slut gene I haven’t figured out yet?

I know this guy who is adopted, like me, and he and his family don’t get a long so well. His parents are staunch conservatives who retired from respectable jobs, and live a fairly “vanilla” existence. This guy, however, is covered in tattoos with long hair (a la the Duck Dynasty crew), I think he might have been in a motorcycle gang at one point, and is working on wife number 2 because wife number 1 was the epitome of white trash.

Harley Davidson motorcyclists ride through the streets of Barcelona

Apparently the one good thing he got from wife 1 (other than his daughters, who are beautiful) was a connection to his bio-mom. Turns out she runs a motorcycle shop, and basically lives a similar life to his. As in the rough biker lifestyle.

He’d never met her. Didn’t know anything about her. Wasn’t raised in that lifestyle. And yet he became her. Nature overrode Nurture.

I know a little about my bio-mom, like she gave me up because she decided she couldn’t go through with another abortion… that’s a pretty slutty move. Am I destined to become that level of slut?

This is my fear. I fear that in the end, I will never be happy in a relationship because I’ll always want to try something (or someone) new and never quite want to settle down. And that it won’t be something I can explain because it’s tucked away in my genetics. Just like my inability to metabolize the meat and potatoes diet of my family, I fear I may not be able to stomach a normal relationship. Or even maintain a long term job! This is my 6th year teaching, but already I’ve been to 2 different schools in completely different districts, and cities for that matter! And I’m seriously considering moving to a different school for next year. Plus I’ve already decided to go into a slightly different career (going back to school to be a counselor, remember?).

Am I destined to never quite be happy? And is it the fault of my DNA? These are my worries…

Cover image comes from an article found here.

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9 thoughts on “Nature vs Nurture (Part 2)

  1. Have you considered a search for your mother. Your part 1 of this post states you were born in Kansas – you can get your original birth certificate because they never imposed laws sealing it from you.

      • Justaddtea – how embarrassing, it was a blog post on another blog I read – just before I came to your blog post. My apologies! Oklahoma is a closed state if you hadn’t already checked, do not know what they offer to adoptees in regards to a registry or CI.

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