“A person is defined by how (s)he acts when no one is looking.”
I’ve heard this many times in my lifetime, sometimes agreeing with it, and sometimes not. It addresses the diverse ensemble of personalities that each of us have, some when we are working for pay, some when we are volunteering our time, some with friends, some with family, and some when we are alone.
I think of this quote often now that I am a parent, eternally wondering what my kids will become, and wondering how they will perceive me as they grow older and become more aware of the diversity in the world.
I have the privilege of teaching some 200 high school students each year, and get to know quite a few of them. Their personalities run the gamut. With some, we discuss character and integrity, particularly after some poor decisions where both come in question. Others are on the other end of the spectrum – idealists with huge hearts and a great deal of trust. I fear for them as potential victims in the great big world, but I was once one of them, so I hope for great experiences to teach them. The ones I am most hopeful for are somewhere in between – realists who know what they want in life and are assertive to get it, knowing that there are trustworthy people who can help them, as well as questionable characters looking out for self only.
Today I volunteered at a huge bike swap meet in Cupertino. The Mountain Biking Club at my school (which I advise) hosted it, and with the guidance of two adult nonprofits that have facilitated it for the last several years, we faced the crowds, seeing the full range of personalities out there. The kids had a great time (you can see some at top, setting up), we did a little fundraising, and we saw as many bikes, bike parts, and bike clothes as a person could see. I looked around at all of the other volunteers there, as well as vendors trying to trade or sell gear – what types of people were they? The volunteers were amazing – so purposeful and helpful, and mostly optimistic and friendly. Most vendors were a little harried, but still pleasant and grateful for this opportunity to sell their wares. The eager public, money burning holes in their pockets, were largely great, but there were definitely a few with keen eyes of a predator, ready to pounce on good deals, even if it meant breaking the rules and not waiting in line or paying to get into the meet.
I reflected on what this meant for our two co-presidents of the club, Malcolm and Eric, who will be moving on to college next year. Both are amazing, fitting into that middle personality type – realists who I think are ready for adulthood, know that they want to keep getting out to trails on their bikes, and want to leave a little legacy at our school, by keeping the club going for years to come. I’ve worked hard to help them with that this year, and I think of all things we’ve tried, the swap meet may by the most enduring positive thing. A person might well be what (s)he is when a grade, dollar, or status is not assigned, and it’s been really hard to recruit lots of new student riders, when so many of them are overcommitted to academic pursuits or other sports at our school. But seeing student volunteers come out, having fun man our club’s booth, direct traffic, and talk about riding… I hope this has a positive impact.
This is not so different from Stroller Hikes. As with everything, the hardest part about doing something away from the comforts of our homes is getting outside. And once folks come out for hikes, the time is committed, so what is left, but to have fun? That first positive experience begets another, then another, and before you know it, the experiences have shaped us as people. We now know what we like and how to get it.
Will my kids end up at a similar place as Malcolm and Eric in another decade? I can hope. Max and Holly both love to be outside, and once hiking, both get into looking for plants and animals. Holly’s a social butterfly, always asking people to join her – maybe she’ll be a club leader too, and recruit others to share in classic outdoor play. Max is a follower, and loved riding with the biking club when he could, often asking when we’d see Malcolm and Eric again.
So far, so good.
Looking to be part of a festival to celebrate outdoors, health, parenting, and so on? Remember that Stroller Hikes will be at the Birth and Family Fair next week, and Festival in the Park in a month. Come out to see all of the different personalities, do some crafts, and celebrate what is important to you – helping to define who YOU are.
– Debbie Frazier (President and Founder), Max (7), Holly (3), and Andrew