By Jonathan Hilton
The debate today at work was involving, looking at ourselves and recognizing our biggest weakness and being honest about it. This proved to be a very personal and contentious exercise due to the fact that honesty is going to bring about emotions that most would just as soon not deal with, I am no different. The questions was raised and my biggest weakness was the discussion.
Now there are probably many that people who know me would think of, and some who don’t know me could come up with a lot more. I never claimed to be perfect, but when it comes down to my absolute biggest weakness, it is the fact that I have cared way too much about what other people thought about me.
Always Been the Case
Some of my earliest memories are about being shy, and worrying about what other kids thought about the clothes I was wearing and the things that I was doing. Even though I was lucky enough to attend a school with supportive kids who never unearthed my fear, I still carried it deep inside. As I grew up, this fear made its presence known every day. I was incredibly self-conscious in high school, (I know, who isn’t), but to the point where I was just looking to fit in, ANYWHERE! I was an athlete, so most of my friends came from the teams that I was a part of. They were great people, and I believe today would have liked me anyway, but then I felt like I had to maintain an image. A protection over who I was so that I could never be criticized or in a deeper sense, rejected.
This continued throughout my adult life, the pattern of only allowing people in my life a few glimpses of who I was, and keeping the rest locked away, for only me. Yes I was friendly, and I got along just fine, but nobody, and I mean nobody ever really saw the real me. I was too worried I was not good enough.
Finally after years of living what should have been an enjoyable life, I reached two conclusions that were irrefutable and hard to avoid. I didn’t like my job, and I didn’t like the person I was very much either. That realization made me question a few things.
Why did I not like me? This perplexed me, and as I thought about it, it wasn’t me I didn’t like but the life I was living. I was very self-centered and selfish. Everything I did was for me, and me alone. There was no real service, no real giving, no real opportunity to be myself, because I was too worried what people thought about me.
My job? I should have loved it, I was teaching school, but I really started to dislike all of the rules and petty crap that came along with that particular profession. It is like trying to be a person in a fish bowl, for me I was constantly on my guard. I could never just be myself. People seemed to criticize everything, and I tried to stay under the radar and out-of-the-way. Eventually that became impossible.
So Who Am I?
Can anyone really answer this? It is often easier to define who you are not. You are not your job. You are not what people think of you. You are not what you think of you. You are not your relationships: father, mother, sister, brother, friend. So I am none of those things, and the labels don’t really matter.
I am a person who cares about others and wants everyone to recognize the special talents they have within them and for them to use them to enhance their own lives and the lives of those they come in contact with. That includes myself.
So Now What?
Now I am exposed, and that is who I am. I am going to try to live up to who I am as best I can so that I can hold my head up, and face myself. Because in the end it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you, it matters what you think of you. Everybody else will have to make that judgement for themselves. My advice to you and to me is:
- Don’t hide who you are, because it is who you were made to be and really nobody else can do the job anyway.
-Don’t care what anyone thinks about you because their criticisms only come from jealousy, envy or fear. Love them because they are where you used to be.
-Follow your passion into whatever realm it leads you. Whatever you are drawn to that makes you feel whole, go there, do that thing!
Consider my biggest weakness, exposed, dissected and dismissed. To all those who judge: “There are many things that people do happily that I can’t imagine why they would do it… But I have to say that even though I am critical or judgmental of society at large, I’m not critical of people individually. We are who we are. “
It is funny in an odd way how fear determined so many of my actions, when if people are totally honest about themselves, everybody is petrified of something most of the time.