Turning weaknesses to strengths
As children we are taught what is right and what is wrong. We are taught to be kind, to wait our turn, and to share. As we get older the lines of what is right and wrong become blurred as we attempt to navigate the adult world and make our own decisions about the type of person we want to be. We are still given advice, but it is up to us whether or not we want to take it. By the time we are teenagers, we are developing strengths and weaknesses intertwined in our personalities and characteristics and developed from our experiences. The times in which we are unsupervised are when these changes occur, and we begin to become more of who we want to be rather than who we are told to be. Well, for the most part. We still listen to the comments of those around us who think that they understand us better than we understand ourselves. Everyone is an expert about someone else's life amirite? Once we are officially "adults" they tell us what they believe is right and wrong, and what displays weakness and what displays strength. This is when we learn to hide the things about ourselves that our child self would not have given two craps about. Things like anxiety, a severe lack of patience, being shy, being reserved, stubbornness, or not wanting to "go with the flow" can be seen as weaknesses in our society. I use these as an example because I have dealt with them personally and I can tell you that although sometimes it's challenging to live with these personality traits, they have contributed to a lot of my success.
As a child, I was extremely shy. Debilitatingly shy to the point where people were concerned if I was mute. I would only speak to close friends and family, and if you were any sort of a stranger, forget it. This followed me through most of my early years and into my twenties, and combined with my anxiety I had one hell of a time opening up to people, speaking in class, and even ordering at drive-thru windows. I got my first official "take all my money for taxes and have to actually set an alarm" job at 20. I was a cashier and YOU GUYS I had to speak. Yikes. I had to greet customers, ring them up, answer questions, and most frightening of all, answer the phone. Go ahead and laugh, it was ridiculous! LOL I had dry mouth, I constantly stumbled over my words, and I would not make eye contact for the first week or so. Then something happened. I let go. I opened up. I started chatting with customers, I learned my job and knew it well, and I gained something major from that job. CONFIDENCE. I learned how to speak! To strangers! I was only twenty years old I should know how to use my words by now right? That job taught me a lot about getting out there and making your presence known. That was the first time I negotiated a raise, learned how to communicate with my boss about what I wanted and needed to complete my job, and I learned how to deal with customers. Yes I said "deal" because any type of customer service type of gig has it's crazies.
So at this point I have anxiety, I've been basically mute up until this point in my life, I'm a pretty reserved person that reads books and does crosswords with my grandmother for fun, and oh I attend college online so there goes social interaction for a few years. Guess what? I turned out totally ok you guys, and you want to know something? I stayed out of a lot of trouble and focused on my education for those few years, and now I have three degrees including my Master's, I made life-long friends at that job, and I avoided a crap ton of bullshit that my peers dealt with during that time. I don't regret not being a wild irresponsible twenty year old, and I do not regret being "boring" or quiet and taking care of business.
Let's introduce two of my other "weaknesses" including a severe lack of patience and stubbornness. You see, I don't like to give up on anything. I'm not a quitter, but I know that sometimes some things need to be laid to rest. I'm that person that will exhaust every bit of energy, resource, and idea in order to fix a problem or reach a conclusion. Some people may think geez just give up already, but I won't. Until I'm done, until I have an answer, or until I win. Some may say it's a weakness and albeit frustrating at times, it's gotten me here. A college graduate who struggled though some pretty interesting courses, a quiet girl who now has her own business that relies a lot on her showing her face and talking to strangers ;), and a girl who was not always the most popular, but is surrounded by a small group of amazing and supportive friends. Quality over quantity folks.
My lack of patience is something that has been commented on by many around me, and I'll admit that I understand that good things take time, but I'd rather put in more effort than everyone else and make those good things happen faster. For example, I completed my last two years of High School and my entire college career online, and I finished early. I didn't want to wait, so I saw another opportunity and took it. Let's look at exercise for example. I had some goals last year that I wanted to fulfill and I know things do not happen overnight, especially in the gym, but I made sure that I committed to going 3, 4, sometimes 5 days a week, I adjusted my diet, I took appropriate rest days, and I never gave up. I pushed myself harder than was expected because I knew what I wanted and I was not going to stop until I got it. My results showed quicker than expected and it gave me the boost of motivation to stick with the gym even now!
Sometimes my "weaknesses" even work together. When starting my small business, my anxiety told me hell no, while my stubbornness told me that I could do it and that I HAD to do it. My lack of patience transformed into some really hard work including long days and nights, and my "not wanting to go with the flow" helps me to stand out and keeps me from following what everyone else wants to do. Point of all this rambling on is that we all have things that we deal with. Things that may even hold us back at times, and things that most people would say make us weak or need to be changed. I'm no longer offended when people say I'm impatient, I'm stubborn, or I need to "calm down" because anxiety isn't real, because GUESS WHAT...I'm here. I'm successful, I'm doing what I love, I'm happy, my business is growing, and without me being who I am, none of this would be possible. Now I'm still a little slow at warming up to new people, but once I do, I'm a hell of a good time. ;) I'm a funny person with a great personality that shows in my Instagram stories and hopefully translates in my posts, and no, I don't have to be the loudest person in the room.
Take a second to analyze your "weaknesses" and figure out a different way of looking at them. You can turn your "weaknesses" into strengths and make them work for you. For one, stop listening to those who tell you who you should be, how you should act, and what you should do with your life. Live for you, approach your passions with honesty and courage, and never back down.