Question two: What’s one thing that’s happened to you in your life that has made you feel weak?
I have to put this out there: I hate the interview question about weaknesses. “What’s your biggest weakness?” I hate it mostly for the sake of the way we have to contort our answers to make us look somewhat positive in spite of talking about perceived weaknesses. Which means that our weaknesses are never actually honest.
“Oh, you know. I care too much.”
“I work too hard.”
Just like the only thing we fear is fear itself, the only things that can make me feel weak are not acknowledging the honesty of my perceived weaknesses.
When I tend towards stress, I forget to eat. That’s a carryover from my relationship with food in high school. Every time stress approaches, I forget. I honestly don’t see it coming. Until I’m in the middle of the situation, and eating consistent meals takes tremendous effort and attention.
I see a lot of patterns that others don’t see. Which means that I often anticipate work that needs to get done, or things that need to be picked up, assignments that need to be completed. Trends between things that need to be stitched together. I always end up thinking: Because I’m the one who sees it, I’m the one who will have to do it.
I do other people’s work before my own.
I have a weakness in my own awareness of my body. I forget I am a physical being. I am a thinking being, always. Sometimes it eclipses my physical experience.
I get distracted by my own interests. I want to grow skills in so many areas that it can be an immense challenge to rein myself in. To focus.
I get impatient and frustrated when people don’t listen properly. To myself, to other people, to things they’re saying. That all-too-easily moves over into judgment, and I don’t want to do that. I just want to encourage and teach people how to have better conversations. Which means I often have to bypass the frustration and impatience.
I lose myself in books. I sell my heart to books. I escape the world through books. This is often my greatest strength, but the balance of life is in its shadow side. And this absolutely, hands down, has a shadow side. A removal. A denial. An isolation.
I forget that weaknesses eventually strengthen, that new cracks form, that growth begets entirely different obstacles. I forget to stay vigilant. I forget to change the style of my observations and self-reflections. I forget. I forget the patterns. I forget to recognise things, and I forget to question.
Which sounds insane to anyone who knows me. Because clearly I pattern, I reflect, and I question during most waking hours of my life.
I have a weakness for creative partnerships. Feeling like I don’t have an active participation in that kind of partnership makes me feel… antsy. Jealous.
Again, isolated. When alone, that kind of lonely, my mind runs circles around me. And it’s not good for anyone.
I have a strong weakness that tends towards isolation and independence. It has taken me decades to work out how to befriend, how to develop relationships, how to deepen them, how to grow them, how to give them space and let them live.
The juggling of all of these weaknesses, predilections, desires — over the years, these have grown into the roots of all paths I take.