We are the product of two powerful forces: 1) Genome and 2) Phenome.
Genome is the genetic makeup that prescribes many of our physical/cognitive traits and some of our dispositions. Genetics dictate much (but not all) of how tall we are, the texture of our hair, our skin color, the shape of our nose, etc. Much, but not all. Science now indicates that even our height is influenced (up to 30%) by that other powerful force...
Phenome is the collection of environmental factors in which we were raised, and in adult life, those we choose for ourselves. The elements of phenome include things such as family structure, socioeconomic status, our neighborhood, the beliefs and values taught to us, etc.
Phenome and CULTURE are almost synonymous. They are mutually influential. Culture hugely impacts our phenome, and vice versa.
The science of epigenetics now informs us that our phenome determines which of our genes (our genome) get "turned on" or "turned off."
Thus, the person we are, the person that others perceive us to be, is a mash-up of our genome and our phenome.
As children, we had very little control of our phenome. As adults, we have most of the control over our phenome.
A compelling question emerges: Who do we CHOOSE to be?
Because we can.