Defining Character

Hmph. I am quite exhausted this week to say the least. But if there’s anything I love doing which releases an ounce of happiness, its writing. I don’t have much of an outline for what I want to talk to you about. Just a topic that’s been weighing on my mind. We’ll see where this goes.

The topic is: character. As in a person’s character. I believe animals and places also have character, but today I want to tell you what I’ve learned about people.

For most of my life I’ve always had a sense of who I was. I’m not just talking about my disability. But honestly, I’ve always known who I was in terms of my place in this world, what my goals are, what I hope to achieve in this world and who I hope to become in the years ahead.

For example: I know I’m an extrovert. I would prefer going out to parties and socialising. I’m also a “nerd” even though I hate the term. I like reading and writing and take my education VERY seriously. I want to go to university next year and study journalism. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, my biggest fear being failure. In my eyes, I need to prove to the world what I am capable of (I don’t care if I am wrong or right in that). I know I am stubborn but determined. I always do my best to show compassion towards others because I know what it’s like to feel all kinds of pain. But I fuck up occasionally. My purpose on this earth is to spread important messages about the world to as many people as I can possibly reach, presumably through writing.

I know I often talk too much.

These are just some of the many things I know about myself. People have told me on many occasions that to be so young and so sure of who I was something impressive. That I was wise beyond my years. “I had no idea about what I wanted to do when I was your age” grown-ups would tell me.

But here’s the thing about character. I have this theory that character is built off of two main principles: the first being the circumstances we are born into and subsequent experiences we go through.The second is the things we have learnt that lead to the decisions we’ve made as human beings.

Without trying to go too much into a sob story, growing up with a disability comes with many challenges. The fact that I have a chronic illness means I have faced these challenges since the day I was born and will continue to face them until the day I die. These challenges range from physical, to psychological and social. Some might be more obvious than others but none of them were faced by choice. I might be wise at a young age, but the price I paid for that was facing challenges at a young age that most adults would not have to face in their whole lifetime.

My compassion towards others comes from the fact that I understand and have been through all kinds of pain. My ability to read people, or my intuition regarding others comes from my experiences with the way I’ve been treated by certain people, or the way they react to initially meeting me. I don’t think these things are neither good nor bad. They just make up part of my character.

Back to my point about character. Some parts of it we can’t help because we were born into particular circumstances that force us to think and behave along certain lines. But other parts of our character come from what we’ve learnt through those experiences and circumstances, and how we then choose to respond to current and future scenarios. Some decisions we make can be tiny and some decisions we make can cause the entire course of our life to shift. Those are the decisions that are the most important, and the most terrifying.

On another note, character can also change, or we can have multiple sides to it. That is why I don’t believe we each fit into one “box” pertaining one particular characteristic. We are multi-dimensional human beings.

Here is the part that I’ve been thinking about the most over the past week. Sometimes character can be shaped based on decisions that might seem very small in theory, but in actual fact they were big decisions in disguise. The best example of this I can give you is choosing whether or not to speak up at a critical moment in time. It can be in a positive situation, or in a negative one. But whatever it is, do you say something? Or do you stay silent? What happens either decision you make?

I’ll tell you what happens.

It shapes your character.


Have a lovely day! xx

Claudia Forsberg is a Melbourne based writer and journalist. She is currently working as a Regional Trainee with ABC Ballarat.

1 Comment

  1. Wendy Russell-clarke

    Love it Clauds xx Such an interesting read xx >


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