How I Learned to Embrace my Themes of Strength
When I was in college, I felt like I wasn’t living up to my potential when I chose my major. I was comparing myself to other people and felt like I was falling short. I thought about the feeling of satisfaction I would get in acing an Exercise Science exam as I wrote a paper for Interpersonal Communication. I felt a whisper of discontent. It felt like that achievement wasn’t quite enough.
Then I took Methods of Human Communication and for hours I focused on researching, writing, and collaborating with my peers and that whisper of discontent vanished. I took Perspectives on Human Communication and disciplined myself to memorize pages and pages of different communication theories.
Suddenly I saw myself on par with those science and math majors.
So what changed?
I Want To Be Different
College for me, was a time of focused and disciplined routine that allowed me to achieve and then compare my achievements with others. I used that comparison to feel validated in what I had achieved. It was exhausting, but the classroom had a way of bringing out all of my strengths.
Even though I was working within my strengths while in school I always felt slightly inadequate. I didn’t take notice of how I was functioning within my Strengths and kept trying to function in areas that simply aren’t my Strengths.
I wanted to be laid back, relaxed, okay with staying up until 2am and not getting my homework done. I wanted to put off studying for exams and writing papers until the very last minute. I wished I could blow off those “busy work” assignments, and breeze through college stress free.
But, if I had done any of that, I wouldn’t have been me.
Five Words That Perfectly Describe Me
I took StrengthsFinder™ in the summer of 2011 after my freshmen year of college. As I read through the description of my Strengths I felt like someone had reached into my mind and given me five words that described me perfectly; Achiever. Discipline. Individualization. Focus. Competition. As I read the talents of each Strength, I had an audible response to many of them.
Do you have a drive that pushes you to achieve more and more?
Do you like to create an environment that is predictable and ordered?
Do you have a desire to be deeply known as an individual, and get to know others on a deep level as well?
How did you know?
Do you find your life and work frustrating if you lack a clear destination?
When you look at the world are you instinctively aware of other people’s performance and compare yourself to them?
All the time!
You’d think, and hope, that learning about these Strengths I would start to function more proudly within them. Well, I did… eventually.
Life To The Full
As my college career drew to a close I got the inevitable question, “What do you want to do for a living?”
For a LIVING?
Do I have to know what I want to do for the rest of my life right now? At age 21 I had no idea what I wanted to do “for a living.” The more I got this question the more I started to think, “what do I want in a job?” Not, “what do I want to do?” or “who do I want to work for?” My answer to the question became a description of a lifestyle I desired.
I want to be passionate about my work, and work with people who are kind, caring, and understanding while also driven, and successful. I value a life-giving environment, where I can be challenged, forced to problem solve and think critically. I want to be okay having work on my mind when I go home. I want to get to know my co-workers and in turn, be known by my co-workers. Ultimately, I desire for my work to make me feel like I’m living my life to the fullest.
In September of 2015, I began working with Leadership Vision. Is it my dream job? That’s not the question anymore. Does working at Leadership Vision make me feel like I’m living my life to the fullest? Yes.
It took me a few years to come to a place where I was okay with my Strengths being my Strengths, but then again I have Competition and Achiever. I will always compare myself to the success of others and will always strive to achieve more.
I can’t help but think what my life would have been like growing up if I had accepted myself for who I was. I am proud of those things now, and wish I had spent more of my life being proud and not wishing I was something else. I am so thankful to be in a place where these things are valued, and sought out.
Who are You?
Life is so much better when we look at areas we excel in and stop looking at the areas we wish we could excel in. What are the areas in your life you are constantly wishing were different? Take a minute and ask yourself, are you seeing yourself in the fullness of your Strengths?