14. Describe five strengths and five weaknesses you have.
Detailing your own strengths and weaknesses is a tough assignment, and I honestly believe it’s just as hard to talk about your strengths as it is to admit your weaknesses. If you asked your Daddy, he would list 10 different things than what I am going to list. Your grandparents would surely do the same, and so on and so forth. Weaknesses and strengths are pretty much up to the individual to determine, and what I see as a strength, someone else might see as a weakness.
We all have them, though – both strengths and weaknesses. No matter how desperately awful someone might seem, there is good in them somewhere (or at least there was at some point); and no matter how wonderful and awesomely inspiring someone might be, there is weakness also.
Talking openly about your strengths can be seen as your being self-centered and far too full of yourself. Talking openly about your weaknesses can be seen as fishing for compliments. If you don’t talk about your strengths, people wonder what you’re hiding and why you refuse to take a clearly deserved spotlight. If you choose to overlook your weaknesses, you are accused of living in denial and being afraid of change.
Basically, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I chose to write this series with the idea of being open with you girls so you can get to know me as someone other than just your mother. I am more than the person who tells you what to do and washes your clothes. Just like you, I am a daughter. I am a wife who loves her husband. I am a friend to some rockin’ awesome women who continuously influence me with their intelligence and wit. To my employer, I am someone else, and to the Girl Scout troop, I am yet another person. Each of these groups of people has a vision of me based on how they choose to define my strengths and weaknesses.
What strengths and weaknesses do you see in me, girls? What is on this list that makes you nod your head in agreement? Are there things that surprise you or things you think are wrong? I wish I could sit with you as read this and see your reactions to some of the things I have written, but this series is a personal journey for each of you, and what you take from it is up to you.
It is a personal journey for me, too. As the title of each blog states, this is “For my girls (and a little bit for me).” As I talk to you about my strengths and weaknesses, I’m forced to take stock of my Life and identify the good, bad and ugly parts. Sometimes it is hard to feel the words coming out of my fingers as I type because I know they are flowing from an emotional, introspective, honest place that is isn’t always tidy.
Pretty much, I can be a mess. But you probably already know that. What you might not know is that my weaknesses are much clearer to me than my strengths.
I wasted the one and only body I will have in this Life. Even with gastric bypass and a significant amount of weight loss, my body will never match the picture in my head of what I think it should be. And, just so you know, that picture could never be described as “skinny.” My ideal body is curvy in all the right places and soft to the touch. I do not wish to be gaunt or to have rock-hard abs. I do, however, wish I had taken better care of the body I was given. My weight has seesawed since I was a sophomore in high school. I have been morbidly obese, and I have been the picture of health.
At this point in my Life, I could stand to lose about 50 pounds.But do I do anything about it? No. Eating fattening foods is fun. Not going to the gym is pretty fun, too. However, the example I am setting for you is one that says, “Do as I say, not as I do,” and it isn’t realistic to think you will blindly go along with my instructions for how to choose healthy portions and stay active if I am not modeling the behavior I wish to see in you.
My body is not what it could be and certainly not what it should be. I have a weakness for taking the easy path when it comes to my health, but I am realistic enough to know that the easy path now will only lead to a difficult path later. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Whether I jog across or waddle across remains to be seen.
I am a procrastinator. Fortunately, this weakness is balanced by a strength, which we will address later, but it is a weakness nonetheless. I’m not sure where I picked up this nasty habit. Your Nana and Papa encouraged me to tackle projects immediately, to do my best and to put them behind me with the knowledge that I had finished ahead of schedule and to the best of my ability. I usually do pretty well with the “to the best of my ability” part, but the “ahead of schedule” part is often a problem. It’s more likely I will come sliding tire-squealingly, guns-blazingly sideways into deadline day and finish with very little time to spare.
Part of the problem is that I take on too many things and have to juggle to get them all done, but the major contributor to this problem is that procrastination is one of my weaknesses. Even now, I’m thinking, “I need to find a way to wrap up this section on a strong note, but I’ll come back to it later.” Such is the Life of a procrastinator. I can’t even finish something about my procrastination without putting it off.
On a lighter note (well, lighter in terms of the topic but certainly not in terms of my rear end), I have a weakness for soft drinks. They’re good. They’re really good. Water is boring. Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are not boring. You girls have an affinity for soft drinks, too, and it bothers me to know that I helped create this weakness in you. I’m not sure why I like something that will eat the acid buildup off my battery, but I do. Oh Heavens above, save me – I do! If liking soft drinks is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
There is a constant internal battle raging between my need to have an immaculately clean home and my deep-rooted hatred of housework. Some housework isn’t too bad. For example, I don’t mind doing dishes or washing the countertops. I enjoy cooking, so it is a natural byproduct that there are dishes and pots, pans and tables to be cleaned when all is said and done. That’s actually a small sense of accomplishment for me when I look around the kitchen and see how clean it is.
Also, I do not mind separating the clothes and washing them. There is something borderline cathartic about seeing the laundry separated and ready to be washed. It’s like a battle plan has been formed, and the dirty little armies are marching off to the dirt wars. There is a geeky sense of accomplishment just in seeing them separated and ready to roll. That’s pretty much where I draw the line, though. Once the dishwasher is done, I will use the dishes out of it until it is empty and ready to be filled again. If I empty the dishwasher, it’s only because there are other things that need to go in. Once the clothes are done drying, I will begrudgingly go get them if there is something I need in the pile, but hanging them up is a beating (as you well know from the length of time it takes me to get your clothes hung up sometimes). As much as I don’t want you girls to grow up any faster than you have to, I can’t wait until you are tall enough to reach the hangers in your closet so you can hang up your own clothes.
On the flip side of this battle, I can’t stand it when someone comes in our home and sees it in disarray. As much as there is part of me that can’t stand to clean, there is also part of me that declares I must clean in order to maintain appearances when your grandparents, neighbors or friends stop by to visit. Also, I cannot tolerate the idea that people leave their clothes lying wherever they take them off. We live in a house the size of a postage stamp – nowhere you might take those clothes off is that far from the dirty clothes hamper, so pick them up. The same goes for toys, shoes, notebooks, computers, pretty much everything. It came from somewhere. When you’re done with it, put it back there.
I believe in a “just one more” philosophy. If I have three television shows recorded and only have time to watch two, I will cut something else out of my day in order to watch that third show. Granted, it won’t be something I want to cut out, but I will have to. The same applies if it has gotten late and I’m feeling sleepy.
Your Daddy has the same problem, so he is no help in this area. Even though we know you girls are going to get up early on Saturday mornings, we invariably stay up on Friday nights catching up on the shows we can’t watch when you are awake (which is pretty much every show we watch unfortunately). Then, we end up kicking ourselves the next day because we are punch-drunk tired, but guess what we do again the next night? You got it. Stay up and keep watching “just one more.” Just one more turns into two or three or five more before we know what has happened.
Hmmm. I just realized the three carseats in my Suburban reveal that we sort of have the same “just one more” philosophy about kids. No wonder we are so tired all the time.
I could list more weaknesses – a temper that causes me to say off-the-cuff, head-choppingly horrible things to people, a lead foot that has earned me more than my share of speeding tickets and increased insurance premiums, my mile-long list of quirks which are not nearly as endearing as I would like them to be. The list goes on, but you get the point.
It’s the strengths that are the true challenge because no matter how much I think something is a strength, it is probably even more of a strength for someone else. I do not mean to indicate by listing these strengths that I am the best at anything. These are just things I am a little better than the average person at, so it is a positive for me.
I enjoy writing. I’m not the best writer or the most creative, but it makes me happy. These blogs are fun and give me something to do to wind down my day after you girls have gone to bed. I write quite a bit during the day, though, as well. Part of my job is writing, so I get to see the grant applications I write win money for my company so we can establish community benefit programs that help people in need. If that isn’t a strength, I don’t know what is.
Most of the time I make friends easily. My love of humor and my willingness to insert myself into a group of people without hesitation easily opens doors of communication that would’ve otherwise been difficult. Your Nana and Papa raised me to be polite to people and to treat others as I would like to be treated. When I combine that upbringing with years in healthcare marketing and public relations, it is a recipe for connections with pretty much anyone I meet.
You girls know how I am. I talk to people in elevators and in line at the grocery store. When you start a new year in school, I introduce myself to your teacher and make sure it’s known that I’m available to volunteer, to go on field trips or to just basically do whatever is needed to help. When I go to the bank, the library, the post office, wherever, I reach out to people, offer compliments and strike up fairly meaningless but seemingly-important-at-the-moment conversations.
I don’t do that to suck up to people. I just enjoy connecting. The day goes by much easier if you pepper it with a few laughs and smiles, and what better way to multiply your own joy than to share it with those around you? You never know when the person to whom you reach out needed to be acknowledged. As my Granddaddy (your Nana’s father) used to say, “You never know when the stranger you meet is an angel in disguise.” Shouldn’t we approach everyone in Life that way until they prove otherwise?
As mentioned earlier, I am a procrastinator. However, I am also a go-getter who can accomplish more in an hour than some people can accomplish in a whole day. When I decide to do something (and actually make the time to do it), I get it done quickly while other people are still in the planning, talk-it-to-death phase. It’s a good thing, too. Refer back to the procrastination part of this blog to see why.
I’m not a five-star restaurant-seasoned chef, but dang I can cook. You girls don’t think so at this age. All you really want is scrambled eggs, Pop-Tarts, rice, noodles, dry cereal and chicken nuggets. But when you get older, I will teach you each how to be a fearless cook. I will explain seasonings, flavor balance and how to keep your kitchen from scaring you into a fast food rut because you think it’s better and easier than cooking.
If you are ever in a trivia contest, pick me for your team. Need dialogue from random “Friends” episodes recited? Give me the title of the episode and relax. I can probably quote whatever you want. Want to know the real name and resume of a random actor? I am a walking database on just about anyone you can mention. Not sure who that new song is by? Ask me. I will most likely at least know the name of the band and will already have the lyrics memorized.
Your best bet is to ask your Uncle Jake or Aunt Courtney because they know about 100 things for every single thing I know, but since they live two states away, you would do well to stick with me. I can most likely answer what you need to know.
Looking back at this list, I see a bunch of whining in the first half and a bunch of chest beating in the second half. *SIGH* Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
Did I mention that despite my desire to keep from offending people I still have a potty mouth sometimes? Yep. Add that to the weaknesses list. And maybe you could put my refusal to check voicemail, my ongoing appreciation of bad boys and…well…the list goes on and on. So yeah. Damn.