The Beginnings of a Daredevil

Nature vs. Nurture is a classic argument that we’ve all studied in school. Is a person shaped by the environment that they grow up in? Or are these individual behavioral differences that make up our personality caused by something inside of us, something more innate? For me, Valerie Rutan, it has always been clear—a mix of the two. My personal experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today, probably more than I can express in words; however, there are aspects of my personality that I cannot attribute to any personal experience. I guess these idiosyncrasies are governed by that magical stuff inside people that scientists call “genes”.     My parents named me Valerie after their first housekeeper. Although she did not speak much English, she was always singing and always happy (or so they say). My parents are both in the army. Watch out for Colonel Rutan; she will put you in your place (yes, my mother is the colonel). With my parents both being in the Army, I moved every three years of my life. I was born in Washington D.C, moved to Maryland, El Paso, Texas, Richmond, Virginia, Landsthul, Germany, Seattle, Washington, and finally to my new home—San Antonio, Texas. You’d think that moving every three years would be hard on a girl. This was not the case for me. I LOVED moving. It meant that I got to redecorate my room and meet even more new friends. I can honestly say that this nomadic lifestyle my parents subjected me to make me the person I am today. I can approach someone without feeling nervous. I can not only accept change, but also embrace it. I go with the flow and hate routine.  This aspect of my personality had to be nature. I learned to love people, new places, and new things.

However, part of me has always been there from there very beginning. To illustrate how I believe that some personality traits are due to genetic inheritance, I will tell you a story that dates all the way back to 1995. When I was just three years old, I had my first interaction with a swimming pool. I wasn’t sure what this large body of water was, or how easily it would be for me to drown in it, but it was something new and I had to find out. When my mom looked away for just one second, I waddled over to the pool, screamed “MY POOL!” and jumped in. My dad, who isn’t the slimmest man, was fully clothed and saw the incident and jumped in after me. I remember slowly sinking in the water, not scared but intrigued by the new sensation of the pool. Once rescued by my dad, I sat curled up in a towel giggling about my adventure. My daredevil antics could not have been a result of the environment I was raised in because I was young and could not have learned this behavior so early in my life. This trait has stuck with me into my college years, sometimes causing me trouble, sometimes carrying me further.Image

These stories are just a few things that describe who I am today and why I believe that there is no concrete answer to the nature vs. nurture argument.

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