This is another self-analysis that I’ve been struggling with for some time. Throughout my life, I’ve always looked at experiences or skills or hobbies or careers that I thought were cool and thought “I’d really like to do that.” At which point my mother’s voice in my head would kick in and tell me that I could do it, or I would see motivational posters telling me to follow my dreams.
What has been made clear to me over the past year or so is this:
There are things we are good at, and things we are bad at, and once we’re honest with ourselves about both we need to double-down on our strengths and forget about our weaknesses.
While sound advice, this is tough for me because there are still things that I really want to do that may not come as naturally as others, or there are things that I’m good at that I may not want to pursue.
But I digress…
I think I’m a great writer. Any time I’m asked to provide some kind of bio I talk about it, because in some capacity I have always been a writer. I’m not an author, but I have written for the local newspaper, my own personal blogs, CornerBrooker.com, guest posts on a variety of other blogs, and I’ve always maintained some kind of journal.
None of the above have received as much time or attention as they deserve. Perhaps if they had then I would be an author. But that’s partially the reason for this month-long writing challenge, to dedicate more time and effort to developing my craft.
(And I am currently writing a couple of books in the back of my mind.)
The adventure doesn’t begin until something goes wrong.
Not only do I wholeheartedly agree, I’m good at adjusting to the situation when it does. A few years ago I travelled by bus, train, and airplane from one end of Canada to the other, suddenly and without prior planning. I was once in Germany with a group of friends and got separated from them on the train, but made it back to the hostel on my own. I speak English, French, and Spanish, the last of which I learned just so that I could manage on a trip to Spain. I have been extremely poor a beaten-down by life and I still survived.
Life isn’t always easy, but I always find a way to adapt to the situation. People get so bent out of shape about things that may not be ideal but that they also can’t control. I just always ask myself “What’s the next step?” and figure my way through it.
Throughout my travels, I have met a lot of interesting people. Sometimes due to sheer serendipity, but mostly because of my willingness to introduce myself to anyone. I say that, but I’m not perfect at it; it works best with some kind of ice-breaker or commonality. I have too many stories to tell about meeting people when they were travelling through my city or I was travelling through theirs. I never shy away from such an opportunity, because you never know who you’re going to meet.
This one is based solely on anecdotal evidence because I actually zone out when I’m in front of a crowd and can’t remember a single detail of it afterwards, but I’m always told that I’ve done a good job. When I was younger I suspected that people were just pandering to a kid who was “… so brave enough for getting up in front of all of those people!” In the years since I’ve had many more opportunities to speak in front of crowds, never hesitated, and always got similar compliments, up to and including “I don’t know how I’m supposed to follow that.”
Over the years my strategy for public speaking has changed, and I no longer prepare an entire written statement, but prefer instead to make a few mental notes for points I want to hit and ad-lib the rest. It seems to be working.
This one is tough to explain because it’s just something I do without realizing it, but I notice things. I notice plot inconsistencies in movies and TV shows, small details over people’s shoulders, where everything is in a room, or the make, model, and colour of your car if you come to pick me up. I don’t remember a lot of this information later, but it can be useful in the short-term.
I’ve made new friends by bringing up tidbits of information that I gleaned from their websites. I asked a girl about her running training because I noticed running shoes in her locker and her name on a race signup form (she was impressed). I’ve figured out people’s ages (which were kept secret) based on small time-based references throughout several conversations.
I’m not saying I’m Sherlock Holmes or anything…. I don’t know where you’ve been based on the grass stains on your shoes, but I at least notice the grass stains on your shoes.
I wasn’t a poor student, but I wasn’t the best either. I was better at math and English, subjects that required me to reason and figure out, as opposed to subjects that required me to just memorize and regurgitate information. I’m much more likely to be able to do it with material that I’m more interested in (like current statistics in the world of social media, or every line of dialogue in my favourite TV show), but in the areas where I have no interest (like what my car’s tire pressure should be) I have no hope of remembering.
Now that so much information is available at our fingertips via the internet I’m not really worried, but I do wish that I could remember things that were more practical and useful than being able to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Yeah, this is the one that I’m the worst at and has probably been the catalyst to every bad thing that’s ever happened to me. Whether it’s physical activity, healthy eating, studying, working hard, or money management, my lack of self-discipline is something I wrestle with every day. It weighs heavy on me. When faced with a decision, wherein an angel and a devil are perched on my shoulder, I will most often just say “Fuck it” and go with the path of least resistance or instant gratification.
I don’t like this about myself. I can know in my head all the good things that can come from healthy eating, exercising regularly, studying in school, working harder, and managing my money, but it doesn’t help when an extremely convincing little person inside my head talks me out of it.
Distancing myself from the problem or being accountable to someone else only works for a short time, I almost always backslide. But I’m working on it.
This is one area that I don’t have a ton of experience in, but even when I have it hasn’t gone well. Sometimes people come to me with internal or interpersonal conflicts and I attempt to resolve them, with varying results. Whether I attempt to listen to a problem and suggest a solution, or just listen to a problem to let the person vent, it never seems to resolve the conflict. But I don’t make it worse, and maybe that’s its own kind of victory.
Furthermore, I tend to avoid uncomfortable situations with other people. Tim Ferriss writes in his book The 4-Hour Workweek…
A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.
I tend to avoid conflict like the plague. This can be a good thing, like when I don’t want to give someone bad new so I do absolutely everything I can to rectify a bad situation, but I think I really need to develop a thicker skin for those times when I do need to have a tough conversation. I have so much stress when it comes to interpersonal conflict that I usually just avoid it. I have so much stress around taking money from people (like collecting from clients or friends) that I sometimes just let it slide.
Since I like to eat one might think that I should like to cook as well. However, there are two reasons why I haven’t developed this particular skill…
- I can’t smell, and I’m given to understand that so much of the enjoyment of food, and by extension cooking, is in the aroma of the dishes that you’re preparing.
- I don’t have the patience to spend an hour chopping and dicing, stirring and sauteeing, only to eat a meal in twenty minutes and then have to clean everything up.
Photography / Videography / Graphic Design
I think I could be good at each of these skills if I had the time to dedicate to them. Unfortunately, I have so many areas of interest and I can’t put the required time into them that they deserve so they all suffer.
My business, Modern Marketing, is predicated on content creation. For the most part, I have enough talent to deliver good work to my clients on my own merit, but every once in a while there’s something that I need to outsource because I don’t have the skills to create what I need. This is unfortunate because each art form is special and unique and versatile, and I love the idea of being able to create any kind of digital work that I can imagine.
Unfortunately, each of these art forms is its own discipline, and each one needs its own 10,000 hours to master. I just don’t have that kind of time or patience.
There’s really too much to get into here, but the long and short of it is that I’m great at meeting people (as I mentioned above), but terrible at developing those connections into relationships. I have always lacked a confidence or conviction in myself, defaulting instead to an idea that I’ll be the one who gets chosen, not the one who does the choosing. This is probably counterproductive thinking, but it is my reality.
Adaptation? Public speaking? Writing? These are the things that I can bring to a potential relationship?
And even then I usually say something or do something that ends it before it even starts. Nothing bad, but everything is just so fragile in those early stages…
I’m working on that, too.
We don’t talk about that.
Blogust is my attempt to challenge myself to write every day for an entire month. The end goals include practice writing, more material on my blog, establishing a daily writing habit, and accomplishing a personal challenge. I have not given these posts any forethought, all prompts were conceived by other people.