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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What childhood events influenced your adulthood most?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30548points) August 20th, 2011

Ah. Memory.

You might have serious memories of sad times that imprinted themselves directly on you as an adult, or you might remember silly things that you believe give you an air of childlike wonder even now.

There are often singular events that occurred when we were children that we carry with us long into our mature years.

What happened to you? How has it molded you? If it’s unpleasant, how are you dealing with it? If it’s a happy thing, how do you maintain the freshness as an adult?

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17 Answers

tom_g's avatar

A few major events, that were really just life situations I found myself influenced me greatly:
– my father leaving me
– growing up with a single mom
– growing up poor
– being the fat kid

One of my earliest memories that sticks with me was when I was in 2nd grade. The teacher had asked everyone to bring in a calculator from home so we could setup a grocery store and play store, learning about change, etc. Anyway, this nice kid brought in a Sesame Street calculator. He showed it to me with pure excitement. It was one of his favorite possessions. When the class saw it, they taunted him, calling him a “baby”. I can still picture him sitting there crying. It definitely had a huge impact on me. The anger I felt for the mob that was doing this to him was huge. Here was a kid who felt humiliated and ashamed for no good reason. It played a role in teaching me that popular opinion means shit, people can be cruel, and sometimes being true to yourself means not giving a fuck.

Cruiser's avatar

Sitting on the piano bench next to my father while he belted out Ragtime and Dixieland songs ingrained a love for music which enriched my desire to play piano and ultimately guitar. Both my sons sat in my lap while I did the same songs I loved as a child and they both are accomplished musicians as well.

marinelife's avatar

Moving every two to three years.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My grandparents showing me their budget as they paid bills and what/how they put aside for saving.

My grandparents prepping me ahead of time as to what behavior, conversation and information to share was acceptable depending on who went interacted with.

My grandparents taking me to work with them, teaching me little things as time passed such as how to count change, fill out my savings book, answer the telephone.

My parents and their horrible disorganization of bills, paperwork, griping to spend for basic needs, kowtowing to their parents for financial aid- all that influenced how I didn’t want to live.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Caring for my two healthy sisters and for my disabled sister, and then watching her die. Of course the rest of my childhood played a role in who I grew up to be, but that was definitely the single most influential experience of my life. So much of who I am and what I do comes directly from that experience.

Hibernate's avatar

Oh gosh. I always though we are a product of our memories/events combined. If someone was to base his whole adult life only on one event .. he either becomes a psychopath or someone who definitely tries to hide his childhood from others. OR he just might live a life trying to achieve something he had only on a few occasions. [Others might be lucky and have only happy memories though I doubt about this].

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Hibernate : I don’t understand your answer. Did you read the question and the details? The post asks what happened to you that contributed the most to who you are. Your answer gives us no insight into how that might have played itself out in your life.

abysmalbeauty's avatar

My mom telling me that me being depressed was selfish and manipulative.

Probably wasn’t the right thing to say to me at the time but now that I’m older I’m much more conscious of the emotional needs of others and I do my best not to allow myself to feel victimized because it really does get you no where in the end.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@abysmalbeauty: I’ve known parents who reacted to their kids like that and all I could think of was how selfish the parents were to feel more inconvenienced and loathe to take time out of their immediate focus to pay attention to the kids they made! Good for you but don’t forget to allow yourself to feel what you feel now and then and be okay that it’s valid.

tedibear's avatar

My dad’s heart attack when I was in fifth grade. It was the first time that I noticed that my mom was a really strong person. While there were times that she irritated the snot out of me while I was growing up, her internal strength always made quite an impression on me. As well, I learned that you sometimes have to speak up for the patient. I also remember being scared that he would die.

Being barked at when a friend of mine told a boy that I thought he was cute. (Sixth grade) I’m sure he was just embarrassed, but it really stuck with me. And set me up as one of “the dogs” until about junior year in high school. No metamorphosis on my part, just new, younger friends.

Going to college and having an anorexic slut as a roommate. Not exactly childhood, but still pretty young.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I grew up in a household that had three older siblings by 6, 13 and 14 years. Our parents started their own business when I was around 5 or 6. A lot of time was spent entertaining myself in the house, and I was moved from one sibling’s bedroom to another as they came and went. In hindsight, it was treated as an archaeologist would.

When the eldest went off to college, I was moved into her room. When she moved back in, I got shifted to the brother’s room. When the other sister went off to college, I got shifted to her room so that I had my own bathroom. Each were filled with books, posters, clothes and interesting treasures that held no clue as to where they came from and why they were kept.

So, how did this influence my adult life? The most favorite job I ever had was inspecting hotels. Not only was I granted the opportunity to poke and prod into curious corners of the structure, but often the employees on the tour could answer questions. One time, I stayed at a historic hotel and had the luck of getting an unofficial tour to see a secret escape route for mobster Al Capone and his cronies when the police would show up. Another time, I was shown a secret housing unit that was part of The Underground Railroad in a house that had recently been purchased by a man who owned the B&B across the street.

Basically, I love to snoop, but only if permission is granted.

Blondesjon's avatar

Losing my parents, as an infant, in a horrible ecological event and being raised in Kansas by Jonathon and Martha Kent.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Blondesjon : I take it there are certain physical laws of this planet that do not bind you.

Bart19's avatar

I think what influenced me the most was the bullying when I was thirteen. A memory that sticks with me is that the main bully asked me who I liked and then him going to that person together with his ‘gang’, pressuring him/her into saying that he/she hated me. There were 32 people in my class and all of them admitted they hated me. I felt so alone at that point.

I guess my dislike of big groups stems from that moment and my anxiety when it comes to presentations. But more importantly it also showed me what I didn’t want to become. I didn’t want to be like the bullies with their lack of empathy and I didn’t want to be spineless like the rest of my class either. More than anything it made me an individual.

Hibernate's avatar

@hawaii_jake Read it again and this time look at it “a single event can’t influence your whole adult life” you either become a weirdo just because one was raped as a kid; or an unsocial person because you had a bad experience at the prom; or you felt good when you went to the Disney world and now you try to repeat that day constantly.

We as adults are influenced by ALL of your experiences [we are a product of our memories combined both good and bad].

augustlan's avatar

@Hibernate I don’t think @hawaii_jake is saying that you are only shaped by one event or memory, but asking which one had the most influence on us. Why is that so hard to understand?

To answer the question, for me it was probably the day my mother said it was ok for me to go visit my uncle (who she knew had been sexually abusing me for my whole life), alone, in his apartment, after school. I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, and my eyes were pleading with her to say “no” to his request, but she said yes. Being a good little girl who never bucked authority up til that point, I went. And, of course, got molested again.

When I came home, I was crying. As soon as she saw me, she started crying, too. She said she was sorry, she gave me a hug, and went on about her day. I suddenly realized that I had no one in the world to protect me, and that I had to take care of myself. It’s only been in the last 6 years or so that I’ve ever allowed myself to rely on anyone else, and am able to feel protected by another person.

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