|Found on the curb at Barnes and Nobel|
It is interesting to have a chance in life to do this. I grew up thinking one needed to be married by a certain age, and was young by today's standards when I was wed at the age of 22. Today's young adults take time to discover what makes up their being. Most people my age have someone else they need to think about: a spouse, a significant other, children, parents. I am free from those responsibilities. My parents and grandparents are deceased. I have children, but they are young adults and I can truly only offer my words of wisdom, should they even ask me for advice. I am living in a period of my life where I am allowed to discover, or re-discover, what it is that makes up me. I get to just be my self, all alone, making discoveries.
So what makes me, me?
While volunteering to answer phones last month at the local National Public Radio station's fund drive, I took a character strengths inventory test along side the other volunteers. The Producer of On-Air Fundraising was our volunteer contact for the night and she thought it would be interesting to see our top and bottom five strengths. She wanted to compare all of us and see if, because we all listen and volunteered, we had the same characteristics. Here's a link to the test: VIA Character Strength survey. One hundred and twenty questions later, and our top 24 character strengths were gathered.
After taking the questionnaire, I felt slightly less encouraged about myself. It wasn't because of my top five strengths. It was because at the very bottom of my list was LOVE. That's right, my number 24 of 24.
Love...defined as: valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated, being close to people.
I know I have come far over the past few years, but apparently my subconscious, emotional state is still damaged. I wonder if I'll ever truly heal and that alarms me. Am I capable of loving others? What if I am unable? I do feel I'm becoming more skeptical of relationships. I look at others, and I think to myself, are they living a lie too? Maybe all relationships are based on lies and I don't play that game. What is really going on in their story? Then I remind myself that it's possible they have never experienced the depth of deception, or emotional abuse that made up my relationship. I wonder, what does real love feel like? What is it like to share everything with someone and have them love you because of that? It's funny, I feel there are souls in this world who could love me, but also wonder, if they really knew me, would they stay or would they go too? Rational Me thinks, it doesn't matter, because they aren't with you. I feel like I'm missing that little something that would make someone else want to stay by my side, no matter what. I am someone who doesn't have a soul mate in this universe. I guard my heart from anyone else who might want to get too close; even my friends. I can't handle being hurt again. For my armor to be pieced, it will take an arrow made of Graphene. Again, Rational Me, knows that I will likely outlive my two cats, so one day I will feel heart ache again. I am comforted in knowing that my cats won't leave or discard me. Just like my sister and my kids, they love me unconditionally. Blood links and pets, I have discovered...come back to me.
|Toulouse and Berlioz|
Recently, I have been feeling I need a dog back in my life. I do miss W because he made me get out and I felt I was with someone even though he was a dog. We would do things...like just walk in the woods, or run errands. I can do things by myself, but it's lonely at times, and my kitties can't go out with me. My recent very late hours at school have made me realize maybe I'm not quite ready for a dog. I rationalize that if I have a dog, I will have to go home. I have been approved by a rescue, and should the perfect-for-me-dog need a home...I am open to that addition in my life. Until then, I am happy to have my two other boys. I often find them both on my bed acting like I'm disturbing their secret slumber and grooming spot. Good thing I don't mind cat hairs! I think these two would love a doggie playmate to chase around the house. I know that I can love, and I do have love to share. I am blessed to have a house where animals can be nurtured. I am an animal lover. That is part of whom I am. Another discovery of being me.
Going back to my character strengths, my top five are: Judgment, Social Intelligence, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Fairness, and Honesty.
1. Judgment: The ability to think things through and examine them from all sides. Not jumping to conclusions, weighing all evidence fairly and being able to change ones mind in light of evidence.
This was my number one. I am compassionate. I do realize there is more to a person or situation than what may meet the eye.
2. Social Intelligence: Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself. Knowing what to do to fit into different social situations, knowing what makes other people tick.
I have spent my lifetime figuring out how to make everyone happy all at the same time, so I wasn't shocked to see this so high up on my list. I have only recently been practicing mindfulness to learn to be aware of my own feelings, too.
3. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence: Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence and or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experiences.
4. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
I am a people person, and a teacher.
5. Honesty: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way, being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions.
Trying to just be me.
I am not sure how the results ended for the group of volunteers. Honestly, I was embarrassed that LOVE was my number 24. I was so shocked that I couldn't think about anything else at that moment. I was sure this group of people, was looking at me and thinking, well of course she isn't good at love. She's divorced. Reflecting today, I wonder what was their number 24? Maybe they were just as upset with what landed in their last position on the character graph. I also know that it didn't matter who I was with, the emotions I felt would have been the same...embarrassment, feeling it said I can't love.
With fresh eyes and and opened mind, here's what I'm taking away from that survey:
I have good judgment, am socially intelligent, appreciate beauty and excellence, and I am fair and honest. I also work well as a member of a team(work), and am kind to others. I show prudence in the choices I make, and take time to express gratitude for what I have. I persevere until jobs are completed, and I enjoy the success of doing so. I am filled with hope and believe a good future will happen by working to achieve it. Humor and laughter cause joy and I like seeing all around me smile. My love of learning is related to my high level of curiosity about how things work in life. I am a leader, but might show my leadership skills in helping others be organized. I go all in when I do things and am filled with zest. I do live life as if it's an adventure. I am humble and my perspective allow me offer sound advice based on my experiences. My self-regulation opens my emotions to be in the moment. I use my creativity to be a problem solver. My spirituality is based on knowing the Universe is a kind place and we all have our spot in it.
I suppose I am not surprised that Forgiveness and Bravery are just above Love on my list. I am still working on forgiving myself for how things played out in my marriage. I am also still working on being brave enough to speak my mind all the time. My habit to take the fall and let others have their desires, is hard to break. I do know that in order for me to love, I must trust. In order to trust, I need to forgive myself, and feel brave enough to speak my mind. I need to know that I will be loved because of my thoughts and what makes me - me, and not because I didn't rock the boat.
The night I found that rock, I came inside Barnes and Nobel. I had my tea and started blogging. I had intended to look up what the protocol was for finding a painted rock and re-hiding it, but when I went back outside at the end of the night, the rock was gone. Had it only meant to be an inspiration?
I am left with this wonder, Can I care enough about myself, to cut myself some slack and just finally be me?
I just need more time.
student of life