(DISCLAIMER: There’s a whole lot of StrengthsFinder lingo in this post; if you’re finding yourself a bit confused, you probably should go check it out!)
J. R. R. Tolkien once remarked, “Not all who wander are lost.”
I imagine many of us are wandering, searching, looking for something. And if you are anything like me, one of the things you want most to find is yourself.
To a large degree, I think I’ve always been on a search, a hunt. I’ve been looking for what it is that I am “supposed” to do with my life; who I am “supposed” to be.
Being the Self-Assured person I am, I’ve always thought that I had things — including myself — pretty well figured out. Well, I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that that I don’t really know much of anything. But I’m OK in the knowledge of that, at least.
Here in California I have learned more about myself than I ever even dreamed possible. I attribute a great deal of that insight to the StrengthsFinder, but as with most things, you get out of it what you put into it. And, honestly, I have thought about it a LOT (some may call it obsession, but, whatever). Despite everything I’ve learned, though, I’m still not sure how to answer those first questions: “What am I supposed to do?” and “Who am I supposed to be?” (for me they’re very much the same question).
Because of my Competition, Maximizer, and Significance themes, I want to be The Expert in something so badly, I can almost taste it. And truthfully, I want to be the absolute best there is in the entire world. Now, maybe I’m off base here, but that seems to make things a bit tougher. How do you figure out what you’re better at than anyone else out of roughly six billion other folks?
But I’m trying to walk down this path. I stumble a lot, trip over my thoughts, and occasionally take wrong turns, but hopefully, If one were to look from a satellite vantage point or something, maybe they’d see that I’m at least heading in the right general direction…?
It also doesn’t help that I’m reading this book, trying to get my head around what it means to be a writer, and the author continually reinforces the fact that in order for people to care about what you say, you have to become an expert in that field. Makes sense.
So I’m laying in bed this morning and these thoughts wake me from my slumber: what am I good at? I mean, really good at? I came up with a few things that I think are true.
I’m really good at being a strategist. I can look at the variables of almost any given situation and weigh them fairly to determine the best possible outcome. I am good at making clarity out of chaos. I am also good at “connecting dots,” at synthesizing information.
I am also very good at being a catalyst — a firestarter, if you will. After the smoke clears, I often seem to be the one left holding the lighter, and, to be honest, I kind of relish that responsibility. I love to start dialogues, to influence people, change minds, elucidate concepts.
Which brings me to my last realization. I am a philosopher, but not in the sense that we typically think of philosophy these days. I heard once that the study of philosophy should have never become a collegiate major, or area of study unto itself, and I think I agree. For me the concept of true philosophy is actually about that notion of synthesis, of connection. Philosophy is about learning how to connect everything else; as an end to itself it quickly becomes fairly narcissistic, nihilistic drivel. But real philosophy, as I see it, is about Connectedness.
And that, I am good at.
So, what to do, what to do…
Anyone else notice that epiphanies usually just lead to more questions?
All This Gravity by Josh Allan Dykstra on April 19th, 2007
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College Students by Josh Allan Dykstra on January 25th, 2005