18 May, 2013
Strengths and Weaknesses by Ingrid Wiemer
In yet another pursuit of self-discovery, I set out to ask three people what they see as my strengths and my weaknesses. At first I had trouble deciding who I was going to ask. I could choose to interview people who I knew would flatter me, or I could interview people who really know me better than that. I chose the latter, because I thought it would be false if I portrayed myself as a saint. The answers might be more difficult for me to hear, but they’re more honest.
The first person I asked my question was my fourteen-year-old brother, Erik. At first, he was inclined to say “I don’t know,” which is his usual response to any question. But after further pushing, I got a short answer from him. Basically, my brother thinks that I am focused, good at talking to and working with people, and that I have a short temper.
Then I went to ask my dad the same question. His response was a bit more extensive than Erik’s. He gave me three strengths and three weaknesses:
Strength one: ”You are very empathic. You care deeply about other people.”
Strength two: ”You’re extremely organized and extremely focused.”
Strength three: ”You’re very intelligent.”
Weakness one: ”You doubt yourself.”
Weakness two: ”You let your darkness get the better of you, and you sell yourself short that way.”
Weakness three: ”You can be very self-centered at times.”
Most of these things are what I would expect to hear from him, but to know that I can be very self-centered was somewhat of a surprise to me. Hearing that hurt me, because I try hard to perfect how other people think of me. I guess that is pretty self-centered. After I thought on it for a while, though, I realize that he’s probably (partially) right.
The third person I interviewed was my friend Miranda. She gave me a hard time when we began, because she needed “more context,” but after an annoying bit of banter, she answered the question.
“I think a weakness…let’s get the hard part over with,” she said.
“That’s the easy part for you; that’s the part you know right away.” She laughed. ”It’s true! That’s funny. Uh… A weakness is probably the fact that when there’s a problem, or something that you don’t like, or something that’s not going right, you don’t even try to fix it. You don’t address it. And if you do, the problem has to be super, super, super important to you. Because you often, like if someone’s upset at you, you’re just like ‘Okay, yeah, whatever.’ Or if someone’s disappointed in you, you don’t really change the way you’re acting to try to make them not disappointed in you and you’re upset that they’re disappointed in you but you don’t know what to do, so then you just kinda leave it how it is because you don’t know what to do. I think that’s probably… It’s something that I’ve noticed that bothers me, I don’t know if it’s a weakness. I would think of it as a weakness, because I think then it ends up hurting you more in the end.”
“Uh…strength. I think you have a lot of strengths.”
“You just don’t know what to say!”
“No, I do! I do know what to say. I think that the way you think is definitely a strength. I think your open-mindedness to things is a strength. Your ability to, you know, put away–put aside your own opinions to explore someone else’s. So yeah. Is that good?”
I think of Miranda as a very insightful person. I trust her judgment of me, and we discuss things like this often. She explains her views very adequately and I appreciate that about her.
It was cool for me to see that people observe me as they do. Even if the traits they’re naming are my weaknesses. But hearing them named so blatantly and so fully without being able to defend myself actually lets those things sink in for me and helps me find ways to improve upon them. Even the answers that were not necessarily positive helped me to understand more about who I am as a person and come a step closer to accepting and loving who I am.