This blog post was inspired by listening to a podcast called The Friend Zone, where three friends Fran, Dustin, and Assante, discuss various topics that all center around mental wellness. In the spirit of the new year, on the last episode Fran asked what are the three things that you learned about yourself that you love and that propels your life forward, what are the three things that you you learned about yourself that you don’t like and that holds you back, and how are you going to improve the things that you don’t like. I want to explore these questions because when I heard them I immediately thought of recent incidents that illustrated what I have learned about myself this year. What also struck me was that it’s easy for me to criticize myself, because I was quickly able to think of what I don’t like about myself and what I want to change, but it took longer for me think of my the positive qualities that actually help me in life.
Three things I learned about myself that I love
- I have deep compassion for people, including people who have made decisions I wouldn’t make, or who have made mistakes, or have harmed others. I contribute this to my continued learning about how the decisions that we make are greatly structured by the choices or lack of choices that we have, and strategies for holding people accountable for harm they have caused and facilitating healing of whole communities without relying on the state to reproduce more harm.
- My deep love of learning, using a variety of methods; whether formal schooling or just reading, signing up for classes, attending panel discussions, etc. I think it’s also why it’s been hard for me to decide on a career path, because I’m interested in so many things.
- I am able to accept difference. I am not afraid of difference. I refuse to accept that just because something is outside of the “norm” or “mainstream” that it’s wrong or shouldn’t exist.
Three things I learned about myself that I don’t love and want to improve
- A big one for me is that when I’m around people I don’t know, most of the time I will not showcase all of my personality. What I mean is that instead of just being me (and all that encompasses), I only show certain parts of myself, which is usually the quiet introverted part, or what I think people want to see. Even though I have always been aware of it, it only really hit me a few weeks ago when I did not get a fellowship that I really wanted. And I think a part of the reason that I did not get the fellowship is because I failed to be myself during the interview; I was trying to present a version of myself that I thought they would want. But no, they actually wanted the real me. This will probably be the hardest thing for to improve because for long I have dealt with social anxiety and being an introvert. An easy first step that I can take and have started doing, is when I’m in a big crowd of people, just find one person and start talking to them; it’s easier for me to have one-on-one conversations than to participate in big group interactions.
- Another quality that I want to work on is being more responsive to people and following up. That is just so important in many areas of life, but especially professionally. I have finally realized that I was not being as responsive to people as I should, even if it’s just a one word or one sentence confirmation in an email. This is something that I just have to always make myself remember.
- Another big one is taking initiative, period. Whether it’s proposing a new idea, taking on a project, asking others how I can help and make their lives easier. I have been recently reminded that, professionally, taking the initiative will propel me immensely in my career and get people to see me as a leader. How I will improve is to just take initiative! During busy time periods for others at work, I will make myself available to help out. I also plan to deepen my involvement in a couple of philanthropy organizations over the next year, so those will be great opportunities to bring the skills I have to the table and help them move their mission forward.
What did you learn about yourself in 2015 that you love, don’t love, and what steps will you take this year to improve?