Personality VS Character

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We are constantly hearing about the importance of personality: “Personality is what’s most important.” “Who cares if he looks like Gonzo? Maybe he has a good personality.” Naturally, I’ve always paid attention to the personality factor when it comes to meeting new people, making new friends, or deciding whether or not to date a guy (I use the term “date” loosely). But I recently spoke with someone who completely changed how I look at things… which rarely happens these days, as most people are just tape recorders replaying the same tired old adages and carbon-copy advice.

I work part-time as the assistant editor for an online magazine geared towards women over 50, and I had the opportunity to interview Cindy Joseph – a 60-something model, entrepreneur, and bride. She’s based here in New York, but she’s an original California “flower child” (and she’s absolutely gorgeous). We were talking about her wedding, what it was like to get married after 60, and what sort of advice she had for others – particularly when it comes to relationships. One of the things she said that really stuck out was, “I don’t pay so much attention to personality. I do pay attention to character. How does this person feel about death? How do they treat the unfortunate? How do they function through life? How do they deal when the chips are down? Character is so much more important than personality”. Well damn. Yes… yes it is.

By definition, personality is all about the surface – which is ironic, since it is always said that personality is more important than looks. Anyone can put on a nice front. But who cares if someone buys you a round of drinks if they’re going to be bitter that you didn’t return the favor? Giving is one thing. Secretly expecting something in return is another. Asking about someone’s day is “nice”. Actively engaging, listening, and caring about that person’s response is completely different. New Yorkers have the reputation of being rude, because many tend to be a bit abrupt (to say the least), but what I’ve noticed from the beginning is that when you talk to someone, you start to see that there’s a really good person behind the “rough around the edges” facade. An unfortunate contrast would be Hawaii, where people do pretty well keeping up appearances and acting like everything is about the “aloha spirit” when, in reality, there’s a lot of shadiness going on in a large percentage of households and families. Character is made up of one’s morals, values, and everything else that cannot be faked, simply because it’s who that person really is at the core.

Maybe the reason why character is so often overlooked is because it’s not something that you can read instantly – you need to actually get to know someone on a deeper level to figure it out. I think that’s also why, when it comes to my inner circle of friends, we can get away with more between each other than we can with other people. We may be PMSing, acting bitchy due to too much stress, or completely MIA due to a crazy work schedule. At the end of the day, however, we know who the other person is behind whatever “off” attitude might arise once awhile, and we know that we love the real person they are deep down. After listening to Cindy’s comments on the matter, I found myself thinking “How did I not consider that before?” Suffice it to say, I’m incredibly glad that I learned this sooner in life rather than later – and it makes me evaluate people in a completely different way.

Read the rest of Cindy’s interview HERE.

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