I was recently trying to list out traits that I identify with at my core. Here’s how I see myself:
An empath: In most interactions, I’m trying to put myself in the other person’s shoes. This usually translates into thinking about the other person’s motivations, goals, and insecurities, in nearly every interaction of mine. This is a cognitive exercise for me.
Adventurous spirit: I love to set out and explore. I like to meet new people. Uncomfortable situations don’t usually faze me. I like learning, and am happy to discover that what I thought I knew may not always be correct. The Black Swan does not shock me; it’s an exciting discovery!
Problem-solver: When something doesn’t fit my mental model of how things should work, I step back and wonder why it might be the way it is. How can things change or adapt? How can I be part of the solution? And some other times, do I care enough about this problem – is this a battle I want to choose and participate in?
Community-builder: Communities are hard to build. A community is not a cult, and is not a congregation of yes-men. However, the community must have certain ideas, values, and beliefs in common- there must be a culture to bind it together. After all, the strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the strength of the pack is in the wolf.
When I shared these ideas of myself with a mentor, he pointed out that I certainly score high on openness to experience in his view. However, there are of course, certain pitfalls of being so.
Here are some that stood out to me upon a little reflection:
- Sometimes, I display a trait that I would describe as a marriage between gullibility and a sense of entitlement. I find myself thinking that others will be as candid with me as I am with them, especially during periods of tension, I expect it; nay, demand it!
- I have certainly learned to be tactful the hard way. I am rather desperate to be myself with everyone I meet. I crave to be brutally authentic with everyone and in every situation. However, I have learnt to see the merit in reading a situation, and responding accordingly. Tact has not yet become my second nature, so my go-to response is to request time before I’m expected to respond.
- I identify with the wolf as my spirit animal. Any quote about the wolf and its ways gets me fascinated. Here’s another one: throw me to the wolves and I’ll come back leading the pack. This comes from an intense desire to not just survive, but thrive. But many a time, this comes off a serious sense of detachment – it might seem like I don’t care. Yes, I don’t care enough to dwell on certain things, but some others might connect with it deeply – and they perhaps see me as non-committed in some of those situations.
However, I see myself learning to use my strengths to balance the other out. At some point, I might have a strong sense of wanderlust that makes me want to take off. But, empathy will probably help me gauge if my actions might be coming at a time when someone needs my presence the most. Hard decisions might need to be taken, but I’ll save that for when I reach the bridge.